Reviewed by William Blahd on April 22, 2016


American Academy of Pediatrics, Hansa Bhargava, MD, WebMD Pediatrician

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Video Transcript

Narrator: It's rough when your happy, healthy kid comes down with a cough. (cough)

Narrator: It's a sound no parent likes to hear. Hansa Bhargava, MD: A cough is just a symptom of an infection. Generally most coughs go away by themselves within seven to ten days.

Narrator: If your child has a cough, here are some tips to make it better. Try liquids to break the cough cycle.

Hansa Bhargava, MD: key is to get fluids down, so if it's a popsicle wonderful. If it's juice that's fine too. If its water that's wonderful, but keep offering your child fluids and remember the child also needs to get rest. If you can put a couple of pillows behind his head when he's going to sleep just so he sits up a little bit more rather than lying flat. Have a cool mist humidifier by the bedside and actually a teaspoon of honey helps a lot to suppress that cough as well. And that will help your child get a good night sleep. If your child's over four, you can also talk to your doctor about an over-the-counter cough medicine.

Narrator: Steam can help congestion.

Hansa Bhargava, MD: If a cough is associated with cold or congestion and a lot of them are, a good home remedy might be a steamy shower. So take your child into the bathroom, run that shower and have him sit next to it and inhale that steam. That can actually help with the sinus congestion and help him get a good night's rest.

Narrator: Try giving hot soup.

Hansa Bhargava, MD: Well warm chicken soup offers hydration, but it also has nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. So that's a wonderful way to get fluids in your child and also get him some nutrients as well.

Narrator: Teach your child cough hygiene.

Hansa Bhargava, MD: If your child looks well otherwise, doesn't have a high fever, is eating and drinking well and doesn't have any trouble breathing, then it's probably okay to send your child to school as most coughs are caused by viral infections. But remember teach your child good hygiene. You don't want him infecting other children. So when he coughs, teach him to cough into his upper arm, almost like Dracula. Narrator: And that will help other kids not get those droplets that could infect them.

Hansa Bhargava, MD: Know when to call the doctor. Most coughs are caused by viruses and generally go away by themselves.

Narrator: If your child has a cough though and has trouble breathing, noisy breathing or just doesn't look well, it's probably a good idea to talk to your doctor. These at-home tips may be all your child needs to help get over a common cough. Call your doctor for a visit if the cough doesn't get better after five days.