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:
- 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: https://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 steam vaporiser 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 Steam Vaporiser 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 as steam. This product helps to prevent infection and prevents your child’s body from losing essential moisture. I have to say if I ever had to recommend a product to a mother of young children this would be it! Its fantastic at helping with coughs but also nasal congestion so really useful for any cough and cold symptoms your little one may develop. My top tip would be to add a couple of drops of Olbas for children (http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/olbas_for_children_10ml ) into the little blue dish on the top of the vaporiser at times of severe nasal congestion as this can stop mucus from building up and can reduce nasal drip which in turn means less coughing!! This product is on a WonderBaba promotion here http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/vicks_warm_steam_vaporiser
Cough bottles which are suitable for young children which are licensed for use in Ireland are:
Nelsons sootha – This is a 6c homeopathic bryonia mixture which contains purified honey and zesty lemon. It is free from colourings, flavourings and alcohol. As it contains honey it is only suitable from one year of age. It can sooth sore throats and reduce irritation which can help reduce a dry or irritating cough. Lemon is also useful for breaking down mucus so I consider this cough bottle a bit of an all-rounder. Find more product information here: http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/nelsons_sootha_childrens_cough_syrup
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. See here to purchase www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/pharmony_throat_syrup_100ml
I hope you find this information helpful and as always don’t hesitate to contact me on the WonderBaba Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare) with any questions or for one to one advice for your little one! You can also consult with me in person at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 or over the phone on 012600262.