Don’t Self-Medicate! Consult a Pediatrician to Manage a Child’s Coughs

With all the elements that summer brings, coughs can become more troubling during this season. The hot and dry weather can be so uncomfortable already, and when you develop a hacking cough accompanied by cold symptoms, it can be difficult to focus on anything or to get a restful sleep. It’s even more concerning when it’s your child who has to deal with these problems.

Child’s Coughs

Coughs and colds may seem more prevalent during the winter months, but they can happen any time. Many of the common bacterial and viral infections that affect the respiratory system circulate all year round; and allergens like smoke, grasses, and pollen, can be more problematic in warm weather.

Don’t self-medicate!

Since coughing can be so uncomfortable for kids, you may be inclined to give him/her cough syrups to get rid of the symptom. You should not do this without the advice of a pediatrician, though. Like nasal discharge and sneezing, coughing is one of the body’s mechanisms to eliminate germs through phlegm. Even if the cough is dry, you can’t be certain which infection if any, the child has. This make it hard to know which drug would be the best treatment, or if any drug would be helpful at all.

Additionally, some drugs may be harmful to the child if given liberally or in doses beyond what a pediatrician would recommend. Some prescription cough medicines contain codeine, an opioid that gives pain relief and also produces sedative effects. Drugs containing this compound are generally not recommended for children under 12 years old, and recently, the FDA has started studying whether these medications are appropriate even for children12 and over.

In cases where the child’s cough is severe and compromises important activities, like sleeping and eating, cough syrup with codeine or dextromethorphan might be prescribed by a doctor, with stringent caution. Otherwise, alternatives will be given, and in some cases, simple remedies like honey, herb tea and steam therapies can be used to soothe your child.

As always, prevention is better than cure.

As mentioned, some infections cannot be cured with medication and can only be managed with rest, fluids, and other home remedies. That’s why it’s important to keep your child healthy throughout the season (and the year!) through regular checkups, proper nutrition, and complete, updated vaccination, which a Lone Tree pediatrician, like the doctors from Lone Tree Pediatrics, can provide.


Children’s Cough: Causes and Treatments, WebMD

How Bad Is That Cough? 7 Bad Coughs to Worry About, Parents Magazine

FDA to evaluate risk of codeine cough and cold meds for children, CNN

About Debra Berry

Dr. Debra Berry is a board-certified pediatrician in Lone Tree, Colorado providing comprehensive pediatric care at Lone Tree Pediatrics. Her primary goal as a physician is to help each of her patients live a healthy life and grow into a happy productive adult.