Coughing is a healthy reflex that helps clear the airways. A severe cough or one that lasts more than a week requires a medical checkup. But many coughs are caused by a virus that just needs to run its course.

    How Do I Handle a Cough?

    • If your child develops a "barky" or "croupy" cough, sit in a steamy bathroom together for about 20 minutes.
    • Offer plenty of fluids (breast milk or formula for babies; cool water and juice for older kids). Avoid carbonated or citrus drinks that may irritate a raw throat.
    • Run a cool-mist humidifier in your child's bedroom.
    • Use saline (saltwater) nose drops to relieve congestion.
    • Never give cough drops (a choking hazard) to young kids or cough or cold medicine to kids under 6 years of age.

    Get Medical Care if Your Child:

    • has severe cough spasms or attacks, wheezing, or stridor (a high-pitched sound when breathing in)
    • has a cough that lasts more than a week, gets worse, happens the same time every year, or seems caused by something specific (such as pollen, dust, pets, etc.)
    • has a fever that lasts more than a couple of days
    • is younger than 3 months old
    • is breathing fast or working hard to breathe
    • has a blue or pale color in the lips, face, or tongue during or after coughing

    What Can Help Prevent Coughs?

    • Follow the doctor's treatment plan if your child has asthma or allergies.
    • Avoid anyone who smokes or has a cold.
    • Make sure your kids their vaccines on time as they can prevent some respiratory illnesses.
    • Teach kids to sneeze or cough into their elbow, not their hands.
    • Wash hands well and often.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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