Helping your kids through cough season

By Monica van de Weerd

It is heart breaking listening to your littlies coughing away. Coughs are certainly something you want to keep an eye on or get checked out with your health practitioner as coughs develop quickly when kids are small; especially if it is associated with a fever. Most coughs are a symptom of a viral infection, which can sometimes last a few weeks and mostly you can just ease the symptoms. However, if expectorated mucous turns yellow it can be a sign that a secondary bacterial infection and antibiotics may be needed.

Note that there are different kinds of cough. Dry coughs are unproductive and are caused by irritated and inflamed respiratory linings, so need to be moistened. Wet coughs are where mucous has settled and the body is trying to expectorate it out of the airways. Mucous needs to be kept thin so it is easily expelled.

 If we are just looking at trying to soothe a niggling cough, here are some tips that may help your child through the worst.

1) Honey and warm water

These are wonderful for soothing irritated airways and it tastes nice too. Manuka honey is also antimicrobial, so can help against invading winter bugs. 

2) Steam power 

Steam helps to moisten the airways and loosen mucous that has become thicker and harder to expectorate. Another option is to fill a bowl with hot water and allow kids to inhale the steam (obviously taking care with hot water). Add oils like peppermint, thyme, eucalyptus or Manuka to help with opening the airways. A humidifier in the bedroom using is another option using the same essential oils. A few drops of these same essential oils can be added to a carrier oil like sweet almond, or even olive oil if that is what is at hand, and rubbed on the chest or upper back (avoid contact with the eyes).

3) Hydration 

Being hydrated is important to keep mucous thin, so keep their fluids up. So plenty of warm water, herbal teas and juices.

4) Cut back on dairy

Dairy foods can lead to increased mucous production, so at this time keep them to a minimum.

5) Vitamin C

This is the number one antioxidant for the lungs, so make sure they have lots of freshly squeezed fruit juices to top up levels.

6) More pillows

Slighting raising your child’s head when they are in bed will help with coughing.

SOURCE: Clinicians

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