Being a mother of 3 young children, I know it can be worrying to see your child sick and uncomfortable. From a simple cold, to a high fever or a cough, I'm always looking for natural ways to help my kids; to ease their discomfort and help them get better sooner!
The cough reflex
Coughing is a normal reflex that helps clear the respiratory tract of secretions and foreign material. It can also happen when respiratory tract is irritated by an infection, dust or toxic fumes. Coughing is a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs that carries with it those impurities and excessive secretions. A cough is actually beneficial for that reason. It's helping the body get rid of unwanted substances.
Although, too much coughing can be tiring. While a cough can sound awful, most of the time it isn't a sign of a serious condition. Younger children have smaller airways, which once irritated and swollen, make it harder to breathe and result in more coughing.
Coughs tend to worsen at night. When a child has a cold, the mucus from the nose and sinuses can drain down the throat and trigger a cough during sleep. This is only a problem if the cough prevents the child from sleeping.
Asthma can also trigger nighttime coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and irritable at night.
Common causes for children's cough
- Infections, such as a cold, flu, and croup can all lead to a lingering cough in children.
- Acid reflux can make a child cough. While acid reflux is typically associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach aches, heartburn and vomiting, it can also contribute to the development of a chronic cough in children.
- Asthma can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms vary from one child to the next. But if a wheezing cough starts and lingers at night, this can be a common symptom strongly associated with asthma.
- Allergies can definitely cause coughing as well as a runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat and rashes.
- Back-to-back coughing characterizes the whooping cough. It has a whooping sound and is also called pertussis.
- A sinus infection. This may be associated with consistent thick and purulent (green or yellow) nasal drainage either onto the facial region or down the back of the throat. This drainage will also stimulate the cough center.
Although coughing in children is common, if it persists too long it might be time to consult your family's health practitioner. If your child is coughing frequently, for more than 10 days or more than every five minutes for many hours, it could be a sign of breathing issues.
Tips to ease a cough
- Using a humidifier at night can help with a cough because it puts extra moisture in the air and soothes irritation in the airways. No humidifier? No worries!
You can create a steam room in your bathroom. By simply running a hot shower, closing the door and sitting with your child in the bathroom for 15 minutes before bed, it can really help loosen chest and nasal congestion, making it easier to breathe and release mucus.
You can also drum on your child's back with your palm. A bit harder than you would to burp them, but not too much to hurt them. This will also help loosen mucus.
- Using a chest rub can definitely bring some comfort to your coughing child. I like using shea butter and a few drops of ravintsara or lavender essential oil. Make sure you know which oils are safe for your children's age before making your own rub.
- Children older than 5 may find relief in sucking on bonbons. A.Vogel's Santasapina bonbons are made of extracts from the shoots of spruce and honey. They are especially soothing to sore, inflamed throats and are also helpful as a decongestant and to relieve coughs and hoarseness.
- Herbal remedies can play a big role in relieving cough in children. I personally really like Echinaforce Junior for my children. It can be taken as a prevention and treatment. It has been clinically shown to help prevent and relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (common cold and flu) and shorten their duration.
For an extra soothing effect, there is the syrup version, the Echinaforce Hot Drink product that can be diluted in a cup of warm water. The warm water can loosen up mucus and soothe the throat area.
- Warm or very cold liquids make excellent toddler cough remedies because they thin out mucus, which makes it easier to cough up. Plus, liquids soothe a raw throat and keep your little one hydrated. Have your child drink ice water, cold or warm juice.
- Elevate your child's head while sleeping. If the age of your baby is more than one, put a few pillows underneath his/her head, back and shoulders so as to keep the head elevated. It will facilitate easy breathing.