A cough is a vital reflex action meant to endorse the clearing of the upper airways. The material being coughed up might be as a result of several conditions – from a sinus or lung infection to an accidentally gasped foreign object. A cough might also be a symptom of compromised lung function or imitate rare conditions.
All children cough infrequently but repeated cough, trouble grasping with cough or coughing up bloody or purulent material deserve a timely and thorough evaluation. A wet cough will sound different than a dry cough or a barky cough. It might be helpful to record the cough before an appointment with a child’s doctor. Cough symptoms that last for less than four weeks are known as acute while those that are lasting longer than four weeks are termed as chronic.
Common causes of acute cough in children
As the cough of children might be associated with a vast range of situations, it is advantageous to consider possible causes under several categories. These would include:
- Infection: It is the number one cause of cough in children. For instance, a common cold is caused due to infection in the upper respiratory tract. Swelling and irritation of the vocal cord region caused by a viral infection may cause cough.
- Nasal allergies: The amount of liquid nasal drainage produced as a result of nasal allergy might be significant. The material may usually drain down the back of the throat and activate the cough center in the back of the throat.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Regurgitation of stomach contents and acid might trigger a reflex cough and should be considered when the common causes of cough have been eradicated. This is more common in young children and infants. These infants and young children might not have obvious spitting up of solids or liquids during such episodes; but, they become very petulant during such events.
Causes of chronic cough include
- Irritation of the airways: Pollution, an allergen, and primary or secondhand smoke might also produce a persistent cough. Reduction or elimination of the aberrant irritant is therapeutic.
- Otogenic cough: Few individuals have a stem of the nerve used in the cough reflex coating the ear canal. Swelling of the canal might irritate this nerve and hence induce a non-productive and persistent cough. While this is a comparatively rare cause of children’s cough, elimination of the offending agent is curative.
How is cough diagnosed in children?
As in most medical evaluations taking a methodical history and carrying out a comprehensive physical examination usually results in a narrow list of diagnostic possibilities. X-ray studies, Laboratory studies, and specialized testing by pulmonary specialists or allergists might occasionally be essential to confirm or establish the cause of childhood cough. Testing may include endoscopy, bronchoscopy, allergy IQ testing, chest x-ray, sinus x-ray, etc.
Various home remedies and therapies for childhood cough
Due to the diversity of causes of childhood cough the therapies present need to be directed to the proper causal agent.
- Regular upper respiratory infections respond best to fluids, rest, and care. Several studies have demonstrated no advantage for the various over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Also, several studies have demonstrated possible side effects to children under six years of age because of the nature of the medications included in these formulations.
- Bacterial infections respond well to specific antibiotics.
- Wheezing is treated with numerous inhaled medications, and if there is a concern in regards to the aspiration of a foreign object it may need removal by bronchoscopy.
- Use of a cool smog humidifier as this might be very helpful for the treatment of the laryngeal swelling associated with croup. Frequently a single dose of anti-inflammatory medication dexamethasone is indicated.
- GERD might be treated via the thickening of a formula for infants and/or oral medications based on the severity of complications and symptoms of acid reflux into the esophagus. Treatment is based on the team approach to control and minimize the course of these diseases.
Apart from all these, there are several home remedies as well which can help to treat cough.
Drink plenty of fluids to thin mucus and make it simpler for you to clear it out of your system. Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer to calm a swelling throat. There is some proof that honey decreases the severity and frequency of a cough without side effects. Have some tea with honey before bed to alleviate your cough. However, it is important to keep in mind that honey should not be given to young children under the age of 12 months because there is a risk that the baby can get sick by botulism.
Other home remedies that might be effective comprise sipping on hot water with lemon juice or gargling with saltwater. Chicken soup is an outstanding home remedy that has several anti-inflammatory properties to ease cough and cold symptoms.
Cough medicine should never be administered to children under the age of four as it might be associated with serious side effects or even death. Some cough and cold medications may be used in children between the ages of 4 and 6, but consult with your child’s pediatrician first. For children who cannot have cough syrup, feed them 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey in some warm water to help soothe a bad cough. Honey may provide instant relief as a natural cough remedy.
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