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How Dr. Mom fights the cough

Cough, cough, cough. The cough has arrived at our house. Audrey started with a runny nose for a few days and then the cough … and the fevers. It is just heartbreaking to see her be restless and uncomfortable and not really do anything to fix it.

Are you surprised? No, I the pediatrician do not have any magic tricks to fix this cough either. So let me tell you what happens at our house…

1. Fluids
This is the time when we encourage water, popsicles, soup, anything to get her to drink fluids and stay hydrated. Water is the best mucolytic to help thin the mucous that often triggers the cough. Don’t tell our dentist, but we offer popsicles multiple times a day. It soothes the sore throat as well as hydrates. For a few days I don’t worry too much about solid foods. Fruit is also a great way to stay hydrated.

2. Moist Air
A runny nose and a stuffy nose both benefit from moist air. The moisture helps to keep the mucous thin and makes breathing a little easier. We use nasal saline (even though it is sometimes a battle), a humidifier or vaporizer, and warm baths. I find that the baths are calming and provoke less coughs then her typical play, and they help flush her nose.

3. Rest
Yes, we break the recommendation of two hours per day of TV time. But we also color, read books, paint, and draw. We also encourage more sleep. And it is definitely time to cuddle more.

4. Time
The most important factor. Colds are just a part of life. A typical preschooler will have six to eight colds each year as they come into contact with different viruses. This decreases to four to five for teenagers and fewer with adults – but those of us with younger children will experience more than our counterparts without the little ones. These colds will last up to about 10 days each time. Our children are at greater risk if they are in school or daycare.

5. Hygiene
We wash our hands a lot, and use sanitizer. We use a Kleenex and throw it away. We cough into our sleeves or a tissue and cover our mouth. And we avoid socializing until we are feeling better if we can. One important rule is no school or daycare until we have been free of fever for at least 24 hours without any medicine.

Here are the red flags I watch for to tell me if she may have a secondary infection or that there is something more serious going on and I need to take her to her doctor:

1. Fevers running above 102.5 or lasting for more than five days.

2. Decreased urine output or accidents in those that are potty trained. I use a goal of at least one wet diaper or bathroom trip every four to six hours.

3. Increased breathing rate that lasts even if there is no fever, or increased rate or effort of breathing even when there is no fever.

4. Specific pain complaints like ear pain, or pain with going to the bathroom.

So now I want to know, what are some things you do in your house when your little one has a cough?

Wish Ethan, Daddy and I luck in not catching this cold!

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