You already know how bothersome coughs can be, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. It’s even more worrisome when your child is affected — which usually happens often. Kids catch as many as 10 colds a year, and cough is a leading symptom. Most parents feel helpless when their little one is sick, which is why so many turn to cough suppressants. But not so fast — suppressing a cough isn’t always a good idea. It’s important to identify what kind of cough your child has so you know the best way to treat it.
Different Types of Coughing
Most coughs fall into two categories: productive (wet cough) and nonproductive (dry or spasmodic cough). “Productive coughs should not be suppressed,” says Dr. Ken Redcross, a board-certified physician in internal medicine and founder of Redcross Concierge. “These kinds of coughs are the body’s way of clearing out mucus.” Nonproductive coughs are ones that don’t produce phlegm. “Typically, these dry, hacky coughs need to be calmed and soothed, particularly at bedtime so they don’t prevent sleep,” he says.
The sound of your child’s cough can reveal what’s going on in their chest. With productive coughs, Dr. Redcross explains you’ll hear a wet, rattling, or crackling noise that points to underlying congestion. Nonproductive coughs sound harsh and dry.
What You Can Do for Coughs
For a cough associated with a cold, Dr. Redcross says to skip the suppressants. “They inhibit the body’s natural desire to heal.” Instead, he recommends using an expectorant like Children’s Chestal Honey that works with the body to improve the productivity of a cough. This cough syrup loosens chest congestion and relieves all types of common coughs that occur with a cold.*
Encourage your child to drink water and other healthy liquids to thin out mucus and ease congestion. Dr. Redcross also suggests using a teaspoon of honey before bedtime, which will help soothe an irritated throat.
*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.