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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

How to Soothe Your Child’s Cold

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You can find them in some cold medicines, but they work only for allergy problems. They aren't useful to treat the symptoms of a virus, such as a cold.

They also can cause sleepiness and a dry mouth. Diphenhydramine is an example of an antihistamine.

Cough Expectorants

An expectorant like guaifenesin may help thin mucus, which lets your child cough it up more easily. He needs to drink a lot of water while taking one in order for it to work.

Warm tea or water with honey and lemon can work as well as cough expectorants to soothe your child's inflamed throat. Warm liquids can also ease the feeling of a "tickle in the throat" and a dry cough.

Steam, along with drinking plenty of fluids, can also help loosen up mucus. Be careful not to burn your child with the hot steam. Ask your pharmacist for specific directions and advice.

Cough Suppressants

These medicines, which stop your child from coughing, are rarely the best solution. Coughing lets the lungs clear mucus, and with it, some of the virus that's infecting your child.

Although a cough can keep your kid awake at night, suppressants don't help clear mucus. Get him to drink fluids and use a humidifier in his room instead.

Other Ways to Treat Cold Symptoms

Throat sprays are a soothing way to ease your child's sore throat. But lozenges can cause a child to choke, and you shouldn't give them to young children.

Painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can reduce a fever and relieve aches. Ask your doctor which type is right for your child. Make sure you don't give him aspirin, which can sometimes lead to a serious condition called Reye's syndrome.

Don't forget to have your child blow his nose often. There's no better way to get rid of mucus.

Nasal aspirators can help if your younger child can't blow his nose. Ask your pharmacist where to find them in the store. Choose one with a plastic tip and rubber bulb. These tend to have better suction and are less irritating than the larger, all-rubber style.

Use the aspirator to suction each nostril eight to 10 times in a row. The mucus may come out like a string. If your child is stuffy and nothing is coming out, try three to four drops or sprays of salt water in each nostril. Wait 2 minutes, and then suction again.

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