When deciding what to give to soothe a sore throat and cough, determine the type of cough and suspected underlying cause. In general, there are six different types of coughs that your child may be experiencing, according to the website WhatToExpect.com. A mucus-filled cough is likely the result of a common cold which can be treated at home. A cough with wheezing may be caused by inflamed bronchioles, which can also be taken care of with medication or home remedies. A cough resembling barking might be croup, which may be manageable at home. A continuous cough, a cough with trouble breathing or a whooping cough should be treated by your physician.
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A mucus-filled cough can be eased with cold juice or liquids. A cool drink can ease the tickle in your child's throat causing a cough. It can also help to relieve some of the pain from a sore throat. If your child is sick, he should be staying hydrated, and giving him juice can help. Juice might also work as an expectorant, helping to break up the mucus causing the cough in the first place. Avoid giving your child acidic or carbonated drinks, as these can hurt an irritated throat.
For a mucus cough or a wheezing cough, try giving your child saline nasal drops. The drops, in conjunction with a bulb syringe, can help rid the nose of mucus, can help ease a cough. A decreased cough can help your child's throat feel better.
Run a warm shower to add humidity to the air and have your child sit in the warm, steamy bathroom for a short while. Run a cool-mist humidifier in your child's sleeping area to add humidity to the air. If you run the humidifier, clean it daily to remove mold spores that will often form.
Many medications exist to help reduce a child's cough. If your child is age 4 or under, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against giving your child over-the-counter medications. For children over age 4, consult your pediatrician prior to giving cough or cold medication. Often, physicians recommend avoiding cough suppressants because they do not allow the body to expel mucus and germs.
Honey can relieve a sore throat and suppress a cough. A study conducted in 2008 and published in the "Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine" found that children given honey before bed coughed less than those given a medicine to suppress cough or nothing at all. Comparisons on the effectiveness were made after interviews with the children's parents. Parents reported less coughing and better sleep for those that took the honey. Honey was even better than a medicated cough suppressant. Researchers speculate that the viscous texture and stickiness of the honey coat the throat so well that they ease pain and coughing.
If your child is younger than 1 year, avoid honey. Babies this young are susceptible to a form of bacteria inside honey that can cause botulism.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child has a continuous cough, it may be a sign of asthma. Make your child an appointment with the doctor right away. A cough along with shortness of breath, a high fever, nausea, blue lips and aches and pains may be caused by pneumonia; bring your child to the doctor immediately. A dry cough followed by a whooping sound upon inhalation may be whooping cough. This may only be treated with antibiotics, so your child must see the doctor.