Cold and flu season isn’t over yet, unfortunately. There’s nothing worse than seeing your little one suffer through these months, especially when they’re daycare or school-age and encountering germs every day. And when that familiar cough begins (and drags on and on)… well, a little knowledge and your doctor’s phone number will come in handy.

First, there are many reasons your child can begin coughing, from the common cold and viruses to bronchitis, croup and pneumonia. And as parents, we’ll worry about all of it until we have a correct diagnosis. Consult your doctor as soon as possible to determine exactly what’s causing the cough and then consider what course of treatment to offer. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics for pneumonia, a sinus infection or whooping cough, give the whole course as prescribed. In most causes, coughs are viral, and unfortunately there isn’t anything we can give to make it go away any faster. But luckily, there are things you can do to comfort your child and ease their symptoms:

  • Clear the airway by using saline in the nose
  • Keep secretions loose by maintaining good hydration
  • Soothe the throat with warm fluids and honey (only over 1 year of age)
  • Use cough drops for children over 4 years old
  • Use steam or a humidifier to keep the nasal passages from clogging up
  • Avoid smoke exposure
  • Only give decongestants or cough suppressant medications to children over age 6 (and only give if it seems to temporarily help the symptoms).

As always, consult your doctor if you have any additional questions after your appointment. Good luck!