That dry, hacking cough that makes your child miserable during the day and keeps him or her up at night seems to arrive without warning and can linger for weeks. A dry cough, also called an unproductive cough because it doesn’t bring up much mucus or phlegm, is a symptom of an irritated and inflamed respiratory tract. While your child’s pediatrician may have to do a bit of sleuthing to discover whether it was brought on by a viral infection, allergies or some other irritant, there are things you can do to ease your child’s symptoms — and make life a little easier — in the meantime.
Provide Plenty of Fluids
No matter what’s at the root of your child’s dry cough, one of the simplest ways to help him feel better is by providing fluids. Drinking water and other soothing liquids alleviates a sore throat and helps thin mucus accumulating in the throat; warm beverages or soup may also help loosen mucus. Let your child drink whatever he finds most soothing — whether it’s a glass of ice water or a cup of warm tea with honey — but steer clear of orange juice, soda and other acidic beverages that may further irritate a sore throat.
Put Relief in the Air
It’s no coincidence that a dry cough feels worse and tends to last longer in the fall and winter months — a drop in humidity can increase respiratory irritation with every breath. To help your child find relief, add some humidity back into the air. First, try running a hot shower in a closed bathroom to build up some water vapor. According to the Nemours Foundation, sitting with your child for about 20 minutes in the steamy room should help her breathe easier and cough less. A cool-mist humidifier can help your child sleep better at night, when dry coughs may be worse.
Promote and Protect Sleep
When your child has an ongoing dry cough, getting enough rest is important for recovery. Unfortunately, dry coughs tend to get worse as the evening progresses, which is why the cough itself is often the main obstacle to getting enough rest. An over-the-counter cough suppressant made for children, such as Delsym® Children’s Cough+ Cold Night Time, can help your child get the sleep she needs to start day well-rested. Be sure to consult your pediatrician prior to giving your child any OTC medicine and to follow dosing instructions precisely. Most OTC cough suppressants aren’t made for children under the age of four, and Delsym® Children’s Cough+ Cold Night Time is not suitable for children under six.
Providing fluids, using a humidifier, helping your child get enough rest and taking the right OTC cough suppressant can effectively ease dry cough in children.
- University of Utah Health Care: Home Treatments for Croup That Will Help Your Child's Barking Cough
- com: Cough Symptoms and Treatment
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