Cough’s – What causes them and how to treat them! A cough is a bodies reflex to clear its airways of dust, irritants or mucus. The most common cause of cough is a cold and unfortunately it is known as the common cold as it occurs so often! Coughing can disrupt sleep and cause irritation and distress to babies and their parents. There are several different types of cough which I will explain now so that you know the best way to act in each case:
Types of cough
- A chesty / productive cough -This is a cough where mucus is present. A post nasal drip often is present at the same time causing mucus to travel from the nasal passageways and sinuses down into the chest. A post nasal drip is often the result of a cold, sinus infection or allergies. The best ways to treat congestion are outlined in a different blog of mine which can be found here: http://wonderbaba.ie/2014/12/16/nasal-congestion/ Also ensure your baby is taking plenty of fluids. If a fever is present and the baby is lethargic or out of sorts then bring them to a doctor to rule out an infection. Once your baby is over two years they will be able to take exputex or viscolex cough bottles which are great for breaking up mucus and making the cough easier to clear.
- A dry / irritating cough – This is a cough without the presence of mucus. It is often due to infection, an allergen or some form of irritant such as dust, pollen, or smoke. It is good to treat it with nasal saline to remove any irritants. You can also treat this cough with the following cough bottles which will be described in more detail later – Pharmony throat syrup (4months plus), nelsons sootha (1 year plus), glycerine lemon and honey (1 year plus)
- A barking cough – This type of cough indicates inflamed or constricted airways. If it is as a result of croup it will generally get worse at night. A trip to the doctor is often required in this case but it’s worth using a Vicks warm mist humidifier in the bedroom overnight and if a bad bout of coughing occurs then carry your baby out doors into cool fresh air which often reduces the coughing episode. If the cough persists or your baby shows any signs of having difficulty breathing, then don’t hesitate in bringing them to the doctor.
- A wheezy cough – Wheeze on breathing can indicate asthma or bronchiolitis which is an infection of the airways within the lungs – a doctor’s visit is required.
- A whooping cough -A cough that is followed by a whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection called pertussis. The sound is as a result of the baby taking deep breaths after coughing all of the air in their lungs out. Contact your doctor if this occurs as medical treatment is required.
When caring for a baby with a cough you should visit the doctor if any of the following occur with your baby:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Irregular breathing.
- Blue tone to the lips or face.
- A high fever over 39 degrees Celsius.
- Babies younger than three months coughing regularly for more than a few hours.
- Coughing up blood.
- Whooping sound.
- Lethargic or out of sorts.
- Signs of dehydration such as drowsiness.
My favourite product for soothing coughs is the Vick Warm mist humidifier as it helps to break down mucus in chesty coughs and moistens the airways in dry irritating coughs. Its a natural option which is fantastic for troublesome night time coughs as it stays on for 12-14 hours and then shuts off automatically once all of the water you placed in the drum has been released. This product helps to prevent infection and prevents your child’s body from losing essential moisture. For children under three all you need is water for the device, however you can use a few drops of olbas for children in the little well from three months of age. You can also use some snufflebabe on their chest to alleviate severe symptoms.
For kids over 36 months you can also use the Vicks Vapopads with the device which provides the room with an eight hour infusion of menthol, eucalyptus oil and cedarleaf oil to relieve coughs and congestion.
If it’s a persistent cough or a cough which keeps coming back I really cannot recommend you read the following review about salt therapy enough! It has saved so many peoples sanity by reducing the frequency of coughs and congestion through prevention rather than cure!
Cough bottles which are suitable for young children which are licensed for use in Ireland are:
Exputex – from two years only! This is a great mucolytic cough bottle for chesty coughs. It helps to shift and clear phlegm which can result in a quicker recovery for your little one! You need to visit your local pharmacy to purchase this and at only €2.20 for a small bottle it’s a bargain! Read the full information leaflet here to make sure it’s suitable for your little WonderBaba!
Glycerine, lemon and honey – This has a similar mode of action to Nelsons Sootha but without the bryonia. The honey and glycerine sooth sore and irritated throats which can reduce the severity of an irritating cough. Lemon will help with the breakdown of mucus. It is suitable from one year.
Pharmony throat syrup – This product is great as it does not contain honey which means it is suitable for use from four months of age. It contains lemon and aniseed which soothes the baby’s throat and reduces dryness and irritation in the throat which can be the cause of a cough. Click here to purchase!
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.