Cough in babies and children: home remedies to relieve it

At the height of the flu and cold season, children are already suffering from the most typical symptoms of these viruses: cough, mucus and in some cases fever.

For fever, which is a symptom and not a disease, we already have some guidelines to act with common sense; for snot, nothing better than to remove them with saline or similar (or with the handkerchief if you already know); And for coughs, it is worth knowing when to do something and when not to do something, and to keep in mind that there are some natural remedies for cough that can be useful to us .

What is cough?

Before going into the subject, it is important to define what cough is , so that you understand that it is usual that it is better not to do anything to avoid it.

Coughing is a defense mechanism that aims to expel something from the body, usually something that has reached the airways by mistake, or something that would be better if it were not there, such as mucus. By this I mean that the cough is intended to expel mucus , and that is why it is not considered a problem, but rather a benefit in the healing process.

The types of cough that a person can have are:

  • Dry cough: when the mucus does not move or expel anything. It happens because there is inflammation in the airways and the body thinks there is something to expel. It is an annoying cough that, as it is not effective, it could try to alleviate or reduce it in some way.
  • Laryngeal or dog cough : Also known as a hoarse cough. It is a characteristic cough of those conditions that occur where the vocal cords are, it is painful and can even make breathing difficult by limiting the passage of air due to inflammation.
  • Productive cough or soft cough: it is the cough that accompanies the movement of the mucus. When the child coughs, it is heard how the phlegm is moving in its respiratory system, taking it to the outside or usually towards the throat for the child to swallow it. This cough is very helpful and it is recommended to allow it to happen, not limit it.
  • Whooping cough: which is the way to speak of “coughing fits.” If they happen suddenly, it could be because of an object that the child has breathed in and is trying to expel. If it occurs within the framework of an illness, it may be a sign of whooping cough , which can be serious in children and requires a medical visit.

What cough should be treated?

That being said, the only cough that should be considered treating is a dry cough , because it’s bothersome and doesn’t help much at all. If the cough is productive, the ideal is to do nothing, so that the child can move the mucus, although if at night he does not rest due to said cough, the pediatrician could consider the possibility of indicating an antitussive syrup or recommending a natural method.

What is there to know about cough syrups?

As we explained a while ago , cough syrups are contraindicated in children under two years of age because they can cause seizures, tachycardia, decreased levels of consciousness, and even death.

For this reason, the US drug agency (FDA) recommends not using these syrups in children under four years of age, and especially not in children under two years of age, as we read on the page of the Spanish Association of EnFamily Pediatrics . In Canada, in fact, they seem to go a bit further and recommend that they not be used in children under 6 years of age .

And it is that they are considered ineffective to treat coughs and relatively dangerous if they are dosed incorrectly or if they are used with young children.

What are the natural methods to treat a cough?

Once the child is coughing, if it is considered appropriate to treat the cough and you cannot or do not want to use antitussive syrups, you can use natural methods , such as honey and onion .

Using honey to treat a cough

Honey is relatively effective in treating coughs (it appears to be better than placebo, although somewhat worse than some cough syrups) and therefore can be used in children older than 12 months . This is so because honey can contain contaminated spores of C. botulinum and it is dangerous to give it to babies up to one year of age.

The issue is to give it mixed with a little milk or hot water, taking into account the subsequent brushing of teeth (and avoiding that of wetting the pacifier with honey).

Using chopped onion to relieve cough

The room-cut onion method is one of the “grandmother’s remedies” that everyone knows, that most say works, but is not supported by scientific data . That is, there are no studies that say that it works for something, but neither that say that it does not, so as long as one thing or another is proven, and since it is a safe method , it is usually recommended because many people explain that it works for them. good.

The method consists of cutting an onion into two or more pieces and placing it on a plate near where the baby or child sleeps, so that it can breathe the gas that it emits when it is cut (thiopropanal sulfoxide, known as tear factor ). This gas is what makes us cry when we cut it, and according to the theory children make their throat “cry”, so that it is more moistened, less dry and therefore they have less cough.

What about humidifiers?

Another possible natural method is to use elements that increase humidity in the room where the baby sleeps, but its use is controversial. In cases of dry cough because the environment is dry, humidifiers can help, and in case of mucus, they could help the secretions to remain liquid and the child can remove them better.

However, it must be cleaned and dried well every day to prevent it from becoming contaminated with bacteria or mold and the remedy being worse than the disease. In addition, excessive use can cause dampness and mold on the walls and ceiling of the room, and could be detrimental to the health of the baby.

On the other hand, if the cough is caused by bronchitis or is of asthmatic origin, the use of a humidifier is contraindicated.

Hydration and saline solution

Ideally, to help the child cough less, the ideal is to be able to remove the mucus caused by the cold , and for this it is important that he is well hydrated (he does not need to drink even if he is not thirsty, but he does need to drink liquids) and that you have the possibility of removing the mucus, usually with the so-called “washes” with physiological saline , which will help you breathe better and probably cough less, as you have less mucus to move.

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