Your child is having a coughing fit, so what do you do? Reach for the cough suppressant? Wrong answer. Can coughing be good for your child?
You may already have heard of risks using cough medicine in children related to poisoning, but this is something else. What if there was yet another risk to your kids?
Did you know that cough suppressants actually can get in the way of the body's natural process of healing itself? As a mother to multiple children, I've learned a great deal about coughs and colds over the years, through doctors, experiences and research.
When the body has certain antibodies within, such as that from a cold, the natural reaction is to get them out. Coughing is one way that a child's body makes an effort to do that. In this way coughing can be good for a child.
Coughing also is a way to loosen up mucous within a child's lungs. This is another way in which coughing can be good for a child. Suppressing a cough can hinder that process, prolonging the length of time it takes the body to get rid of the illness.Suppressing a cough is not a great idea for kids, but especially can be dangerous for kids with asthma.
When the body is not allowed to cough and loosen that mucous, it can cause a buildup within the lungs. In asthmatic children, an excess buildup of mucous can aggravate symptoms of asthma and can be very dangerous. Excess mucous can close off the airways, causing wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and more.
Even though the cough can be uncomfortable to kids, coughing can be good for a child and it's important to allow the body to heal itself with this natural protective mechanism. Instead of suppressing the cough, target the symptoms that occur from the cough, such as a dry, scratchy throat. A cool mist humidifier can help keep the throat and sinuses more moist, which will help relieve the kids of some of the dryness that occurs with a cough.
Lemon tea with honey also is soothing to the throat. Menthol cough drops also are effective for children who are the appropriate age for hard candies. Menthol rub also works. Either menthol option helps to loosen the mucous, rather than suppressing it.
Asthmatic children can be given their rescue medication, such as albuterol, to help loosen the mucous and relieve some of the cough symptoms. Never give children over-the-counter cough suppressants. Not only do they hinder the body's natural protective and healing process, but they can cause serious medical conditions in children, including some that are life-threatening.
Coughing can be good for a child in many cases. Think twice, do your research, and contact your child's pediatrician before reaching for a suppressant at the sign of a cough.
*Note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. The above is intended for informational purposes, does not apply to all situations, and is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed medical professional. Always consult a pediatrician for advice pertaining to your child's individual situation.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain