Children's Health - Coughs, Colds and Congestion
Having a child with a cold or cough is no fun. But while it can be upsetting to hear your child cough, having them cough does help clear away phlegm from the chest and mucus from the back of the throat.
Young children are particularly susceptible to colds, as they lack the immunity to the hundreds of different cold viruses out there. As they grow older, their immunity gradually builds up too.
As long as a child eats, drinks and breaths normally – and their breathing isn’t accompanied with a wheezing sound – coughs are not usually anything to worry about. If the cough lasts for longer than three weeks, however, it is advisable to see your GP about it.
If a child has a very high temperature, or they begin feeling hot and/or shivery, they could be suffering from a chest infection. Affecting the lungs or large airways, most chest infections are mild and clear up on their own, but others can be severe and even life threatening. Therefore, if a child has a high temperature, you should probably see your GP.
It is important to make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids when they have a cold. You can also alleviate their discomfort with paracetamol or ibuprofen.
To ease a child’s cough, try Bells Cough & Fever Relief Syrup, or Children’s Dry Cough Syrup, which are designed to relieve the irritating and painful symptoms of tickly coughs and sore throats. For younger children, Tixylix has both Baby and Toddler syrups. All of these syrups contain glycerol, a substance which has antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
The symptoms of a cold do vary – and one of the most common ones is for children to be congested. A stuffy, blocked or runny nose can be particularly uncomfortable for younger children, who haven’t mastered the skill of blowing their dose to help clear their nasal passages.
There are plenty of ways to tackle congestion. Vapour patches are designed to ease breathing and can be particularly handy to ensure a child gets a restful night’s sleep. The often contain essential oils – such as eucalyptus and/or camphor – which have been shown to help with nasal congestion.
There are also oils and rubs. Olbas Oil is made from a mixture of several different essential oils and the product range includes a milder version designed for children.
As well as the additional help available, it is important to follow the tried and tested methods of treating colds – ensure your child gets plenty of rest and make them drink lots of water to keep them rehydrated (this also loosens the mucus and make it easier to cough up).