A cough can be a very common feature of a cold.
They can sound rather awful.
They can be simply annoying by interrupting sleep and preventing your child from getting back to everyday activities.
Coughing is a natural reflex and is there to help remove whatever is irritating the airways- viruses, dust, smoke- as well as the mucus that forms to help clear these irritants out.
For some kids, coughs can linger for weeks on end, becoming a chronic cough.
They can be especially worse at night and for those who have asthma.
It may seem like the product of one infection but for some kids they may go from one virus to the next and have little relief from the pestering cough.
A persistent cough is also a common complaint reported in kids following a COVID infection.
This cough can last anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months and is believed to be due to the COVID virus pushing their airways into a hyper-reactive state.
For some kids, the post-COVID symptoms can last a lot longer then 3 months. This is what is known as long-COVID. They may have the persistent cough along with other symptoms. You can read more about long-COVID in my blog here.
How do you make a cough go away?
Here are some simple things you can do at home to help manage that cough.
Place an onion next to your child while they are asleep at night
Onions are an expectorant and can help rid the lungs of congestion by thinning out mucus secretions.
Simply cut an onion in half and leave it beside your child’s bed overnight. Simple but very effective!
Soothe the throat with slippery elm and honey lozenges
Slippery elm is a mucilage which means that it turns into a thick gel when you mix it with liquid. This lovely soothing gel coats the irritated and inflamed throat.
Make up your own slippery elm lozenges at home.
Slippery elm and honey lozenges recipe
Warning: These contain honey. Honey is not to be given to children under 12 months of age due to risk of being contaminated with a bacteria that can cause infant botulism.
- 0.5 cup Slippery elm bark powder (Needs to be powder from inner bark)
- 2 tbsp Honey (add 1 tbsp extra if needed and use Manuka honey for additional anti-microbial benefits)
- Ground cinnamon pinch (optional)
- Place the slippery elm bark powder in a medium bowl.
- Add the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of honey and stir to combine.
- If mixture is dry and crumbly and will not combine to make a thick dough, add the extra honey.
- If needed, use clean hands to knead the dough.
- Take small portions of the dough, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, and roll into balls.
- Flatten into a ‘lozenge’ shape if desired.
- Place the balls onto a baking tray and sit them on the bench to dry for 24 hours.
- Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 weeks.
Make your own honey and onion cough syrup
Ditch the synthetic cough syrups and make your own at home. With the onion’s expectorant action combined with honey’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral action, this syrup is fantastically soothing and healing on the throat.
For children over 12 months of age only due to inclusion of honey.
To make this syrup:
- Slice 1-2 brown onions thinly and place into a small saucepan.
- Pour enough honey over the onion just to cover.
- Warm the honey and onion mix on a very low heat and heat gently until the onions are soft and mushy.
- Cool slightly before placing in a jar.
- Store in the fridge for up to a week.
At first sign of a cold or cough, take ½ to 1 teaspoon every hour or two. If you already have a cold or cough, take 1 teaspoon 3 or 4 times a day.
Increase intake of warm clear soups, broths and herbal teas
The warmth of a cup of chicken soup, bone broth or herbal teas helps clear congestion and loosen the mucus clogging the airways, making is a natural medicines for cough. Check out my chicken soup here.
A fantastic warm drink you can try includes ginger, lemon and honey (or maple syrup for those under 12 months of age). Simply grate some fresh ginger into a cup with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, add boiled water and allow to steep for 10 minutes. By this time it should be cooled down enough for your child to enjoy. Add enough honey or maple syrup to sweeten. How much ginger you use depends on how much your child enjoys it. Ginger is another anti-inflammatory food and combined into a warm drink can help relieve inflammation that may be contributing to the cough. Ginger can also help relax the muscles that line the airways and help reduce hyper-responsiveness to irritants.
Need extra support?
If your child’s cough is lingering far too long and causing much distress and interruption to sleep and days at school, it would be worthwhile working with me to see how we can help. Make an appointment today to put a plan into action.