When I think about what it would be like to have more kids, coughing is second only to morning sickness on my “con” column. The helplessness I feel while they suffer with a cough is one of the worst feelings. This is the time of year when the sicknesses really kick into high gear. I am so relieved to finally have all my kids past the age of constant sickness and the chain of contagiousness that bound us for so many fall and winters. Even now, we still battle coughing from time to time. In order that some good may come from it, I will pass on to you what I have learned in my passionate fight against coughing.
A humidifier – Winter air is dry and whatever you use to heat your house makes the inside air even drier. This of course makes coughing a big problem. We use sonic, cold mist humidifiers all over the house. In my experience, humidifier are a must. It is best to use them consistently, not just when someone is sick. This article says that the flu is actually more easily transmitted in dry air. That alone is reason enough to make sure your home is humid all winter long.
Decongestants – Sometimes, your child’s cough is from congestion in his or her nose. If you listen for a moment, you can see if he/she is struggling to breathe. If this is the case, don’t use cough medicine, use a decongestant. Over-the-counter decongestants are no longer recommended for children under age four. There are natural alternatives available at the drug store. No cough medicine will help a child who is suffering from a post-nasal-drip type cough that comes from a stuffed-up nose. That brings me to my next point….
Avoid using cough medicine – Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, only a mother of six. I have what I call my Theory of 10,000 coughs. If your child has a cough, not due to post-nasal drip, then they need to cough until they are done coughing. Each cold comes with 10,000 coughs (this is a totally uneducated guess) and your child will not stop coughing until they have reach the 10,000th cough. If you stop the coughs with a suppressant, you are only prolonging the time it takes to cough it all out. I know your child needs to sleep and you do to. Do what you have to, but remember this theory and use the suppressant sparingly.
Sitting up – This probably doesn’t need saying, but make sure your child is propped up if they are struggling with a cough. Teach them to do this themselves. Sometimes, this step alone will stop the coughing.
Honey – If your child has the eye-watering, tickle kind of cough, a teaspoon of honey is good for soothing it. (Do not give honey to children before their first birthday due to the chance of botulism spores in honey) Hard candy or lozenges help too. Even lollipops or gum will help if you are desperate enough to get them out of bed and get out the candy.
An ounce of prevention – I am a big believer in boosting up the vitamins this time of year. Gummy vitamins, Flintstone vitamins, whatever you can get into them is good. I especially believe in the power of zinc to ward off sickness. I take a zinc supplement as soon as I feel the first tickle of a cold and I usually fight it off. When one of my kids get sick, I make sure the others are getting their zinc right away. My kids are old enough to swallow a pill in the tiny dose of zinc I give them. GNC makes tiny doses of zinc and Zicam sells zinc in various forms, some especially for children. Be careful not to give zinc to a child with an empty stomach. It can cause nausea if they have not eaten beforehand. Here is a chart of zinc dosage from the Mayo Clinic Website:
|Persons||U.S. (mg)||Canada (mg)|
|Infants and children birth to
3 years of age
|Children 4 to 6 years of age||10||5|
|Children 7 to 10 years of age||10||7–9|
|Adolescent and adult males||15||9–12|
|Adolescent and adult females||12||9|
Hand washing – My kids have to wash their hands whenever they come in the house. They can leave the door open or track in dirt, but they must wash their hands. The adults and older kids have to do it too. It has become a habit for all of us, so much so that we all feel germy when we come in from anywhere. Being a little nuts is a small price to pay to keep sickness from cycling through all eight of us. Sickness would make me nutty anyway, so we just wash a lot.
So, take a deep breath of moist air, pop some zinc, and settle into a healthy winter. I hope what we have learned can help you go through the winter with happy and healthy family members. What have you learned in your battle against coughing? Please share anything that might help us in the comment section below. Thanks!