Watching your child surrender to chronic bouts of coughing can arouse worries in even the most unflappable of parents. While some coughs can be harmless, others can be manifestations of underlying conditions that warrant medical intervention. If you aren’t sure how to spot the difference, consider this your cough catalogue.
A dry cough is usually a memento of a bygone cold, triggered by residual mucus that should naturally clear over time. A dry cough that persists at night could be a sign of asthma. This typically happens when the flow of mucus aggravates swollen, constricted lung passages, prompting a cough. Triggers for dry cough include cold air, allergies, a cold, exercise and lying down.
If you find that your child’s cough worsens at night, it’s wise to have asthma ruled out by a paediatrician. Asthma isn’t a condition that will recede on its own, and early medical intervention can be beneficial in the long run.
Keep your child’s environment free of dust, pollen, pet dander and mould. Also, a dry cough caused by factors other than asthma can be alleviated by increasing your child’s fluid intake. Get creative with homemade juices, smoothies and fruit-infused water to entice your little one to swill down more.
A cough characterised by heavy mucus or phlegm – and accompanied by a sore throat and a watery nose – is a classic sign of a cold. Watch the colour of your child’s mucus. If it’s green and gooey, you may have a sinus infection on your hands. If you find the cough becoming more and more throaty, consult a paediatrician to check for pneumonia.
A viral cold cannot be treated with antibiotics and should pass on its own. However, a doctor-approved cold syrup may help reduce discomfort. Also, if you spot early signs of a sinus infection, you should have your child checked by a paediatrician.
Turn your child’s room into a breathable oasis with a room humidifier. Also, saline nose drops can work wonders in clearing the nasal passage.
A raspy, harsh cough could signal an infection of the windpipe. The most common one is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), notorious for affecting babies in the colder months. A wheezy cough in older children could be a sign of asthma.
RSV isn’t usually a cause for concern, but it’s a good idea to keep your paediatrician informed of your baby’s condition. Breathlessness is a warning sign that your child needs immediate medical intervention
Plug in your room humidifier and step up your child’s fluid intake.
A bark-like cough and breathing accompanied by a shrill whistle could be a sign of croup. The condition usually entails the inflammation of the airways, and is most likely to affect children under 3.
Croup is a viral infection, and can’t be treated with antibiotics. Be patient, and allow your child to beat the virus naturally. That said, if you notice your child struggling to breathe, consult your paediatrician immediately.
Hot water fermentation, a room humidifier, a steam bath and abundant fluids can be natural relievers for croup.
If your baby hasn’t yet been vaccinated for whooping cough, this condition could be a serious threat to your child. Whooping cough prompts coughing bouts accompanied by gagging, vomiting or a ‘whooping’ sound. Infants that have not received the DTaP vaccination are most at risk of the condition.
Reach out to your paediatrician, pronto. Whooping cough is extremely contagious, but can be contained and treated with timely intervention.
Keep your child in quarantine and minimise dust, loose fur and pollen in your child’s immediate environment. Also, make sure to increase your child’s fluid intake.
Staying one step ahead of childhood coughs can save you unwanted stress and worry. Bookmark this guide to help you be on top of your game. So, the next time a cough comes knocking, you’ll know exactly what to do.
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