As a parent, hearing your child cough may make you feel uncomfortable. Cough is one of the most common complaints for which parents bring their children to a doctor. Yet an occasional cough doesn’t always mean there is a problem. In fact coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps protect the airways in the throat and chest. Children can cough several times a day or have coughing episodes lasting up to a couple of weeks if they have viral infections. However, coughing that last for more than 2-3 weeks is a matter of concern and a valid reason to visit your physician. Coughing occurs when something other than air gets into the airway below the vocal cords. Because the airway prefers air only instead of anything else (like mucus), as soon as something get into the lower airway, it is quickly expelled. Cough and sore throat, is a problem that can strike kids any time of the year. However, chances increases during winters. In winters, the cold air can dry out the tissues in the throat and can cause severe irritation.
Understanding the different types of cough can help you know when to handle them at home and when to call your doctor.
Dry cough: A dry cough refers to a cough that does not produce mucus. Kids may have a dry, hacking cough after inhaling a mild irritant, such as dust, smoke or powder. It also can be the result of a disorder, such as allergy. (How to treat an allergy?)
Whooping cough: Whooping cough is extremely contagious. It mainly affects babies younger than 6 months old who aren’t yet protected by immunization, and kids 11 to 18 whose immunity has started to fade. It causes severe coughing spells, which can sometimes end in a whooping sound when the child breathes in. It takes 7 -10 days for symptoms to appear. They are usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold with runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes and cough. After a week, signs and symptoms worsen.
Cough with wheezing: Cough and wheezing are common when young children have cold and chest infection. Wheezing is a whistle sound made while breathing. Because a child’s airways are so small, any lower respiratory infection can cause wheezing in child. Wheezing happens during exhalation, when something blocks or narrows the lower airway passage into the lungs. (Easy ways to keep kids immunity high?)
Night time cough: Coughing at night can be caused by variety of conditions. Some are short term and disappear while in some cases it can be long term. Coughing often becomes worse at night. When you are lying down on bed, mucus will start pooling in the back of your throat, which causes irritation. Another reason is acid reflux. Acid is an irritant to the throat, much like mucus, germs or dust. Frequent vomiting, especially after meals, choking, wheezing are content of the reflux. (Foods to boost immunity in kids)
Cough with vomiting: Kids often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex (contraction of throat when something touches area around tonsils), making them throw up. Also, a child who has cough with cold might vomit if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea. (Home remedies to treat cold in kids)
HOME REMEDIES TO TREAT COUGH
Mint: Mint has a very strong odour, it helps open up the airways and allows relaxed breathing. It contains menthol, which soothes the throat and act as decongestant, helping to break down mucus. Drinking warm mint tea (mint brewed in water) or by inhaling peppermint vapours from steam bath can benefit (for older kids). Another option is to have chamomile flowers brewed in water (chamomile tea). It has the same effect on the child and also produces melatonin hormone for sleep. (Easy foods to make kids sleep)
Carom seeds (Ajwain): Carom seeds work as an expectorant (an agent that promotes the expulsion of mucus from respiratory track). It acts as a decongestant and helps in mucus removal to clear kid’s nasal passage and helps to breathe easily. Boiling water along with carom seeds and tulsi leaves and keeping it at a safe distance from the child in your supervision and helping the child to breathe it while sleeping or while active (for older kids), can help to keep cough in check and relieve chest congestion. This should best be done before sleeping as sleeping too helps heal.
Licorice (Mulethi): The benefit of this is plenty. It’s antioxidant property helps to protect from any virus or bacteria that attacks the body or fight the same when these unwanted guests enter the body. However, this perennial herb can be used to get relief from dry cough as well. For treating cough and cold in kids, mix a spoon of mulethi powder with spoonful of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and make your kids take this twice a day to get relief. (Some other super herbs of Ayurveda that kids can take)
Ginger: People have used ginger as a herbal remedy for centuries to treat many conditions. It has played a key role in lots of asian cultures- both Chinese and Ayurveda. It contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols. Researchers believe that these compounds give ginger its medicinal properties which may help ease a sore throat. Ginger may ease dry cough too, as it has anti-inflammatory properties which help to fight any infection in the body. It may also relieve nausea. Research shows certain purified compounds inside ginger roots can relax the muscles that tighten kid’s airways. Mixing ginger powder or freshly squeezed juice of ginger with honey and roasted Turmeric is a great cough syrup for kids.
Honey: Honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant too. It can’t cure coughs, but honey is believed to act as a demulcent- a substance that coats the throat and soothes it. Honey is also considered a humectant that keeps moisture in place, which prevents the throat from getting dry. This especially helps with night time coughing resulting in peaceful sleep. (How to make easy honey tablets for kids)
Home remedy for dry cough:
- 7-8 tbsp Fresh Coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Red Onion
- 1 tbsp Poppy seeds or Khus-Khus
- 1 tbsp Honey
Mix poppy seeds or khus-khus with onion pulp, fresh coconut milk and honey to make a syrup. Give it to kids twice a day, especially before bedtime to relive dry cough.
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