‘I feel helpless when my child coughs. I didn’t know what to do.’ You’re not alone, let me assure you that almost all first-time parents that we’ve met and spoke to felt the same way. Even some parents with more than one child were equally clueless at some time or another – some more than others. After all, babies are far too small for cough medicines; and cough medicines aren’t necessarily effective anyway. Traditional remedies, on the other hand, feel more like too good to be true most of the time.
Author of “Cough Cures: The Complete Guide to the Best Natural Remedies and Over-the-Counter Drugs for Acute and Chronic Coughs,” pulmonologist Dr Gustavo Ferrer, says that “90 per cent of over-the-counter medicines do not much or nothing for a cough.” Dr Ferrer also suggests that when dealing with a coughing child, address the underlying issues. “Kids cough is usually due to viral infections and they usually have a day or so of fever chills, runny nose, and stuffy nose. ”
“There is strong evidence for saline — salty water nasal spray that parents can spray into the nose. And children of any age can use it,” Dr Ferrer also recommends the use of xylitol; a natural sweetener that can make the spray even more effective. “They neutralise the pH and avoids the burning sensation that sometimes happens with just the saline nasal spray. Plus, xylitol is an anti-inflammatory. ”
It’s s also important to take into account the environment the child is in as well, for dry indoor can exacerbate coughs. “Dryness is part of our lives today. We spend a lot of time indoors,” says Dr Ferrer. “I would recommend a humidifier. They’re wonderful. You don’t have to buy the most expensive one. They tend to work very very well.”
Dr Ferrer also recommends honey for parents who want to address the cough itself. Several studies suggest that honey often outperforms standard cough syrup in efficacy; but remember that botulinum toxins in honey are not good for babies under 12 months. So, don’t give them to babies that are under 12 months of age.
Remedies such as honey, moist air and nasal sprays should be enough to treat a baby’s cough. They can go a long way into keeping symptoms to a minimum. “If the cough persists beyond one week and it’s associated with fever that persists more than three days, and there is yellowish mucus that’s when they should go to the doctor,” says Dr Ferrer.