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 Integrative Medicine: Cough (Children & Infants) 

  • Sudden onset of fever, usually above 101°F;
  • Lethargy;
  • Difficulty in breathing;
  • Drooling and refusing to eat because of very severe throat pain;
  • Restlessness;
  • The need to sit up and lean forward in order to breathe;
  • A wheezing sound when inhaling;
  • A snoring sound when exhaling;
  • A muffled-sounding voice.

    If you suspect that your child may be developing epiglottitis, call for emergency medical assistance or take her to the emergency room of the nearest hospital immediately.

  • If your child's sleep is interrupted by continual coughing, your doctor may recommend a cough suppressant, because fatigue inhibits healing. There are different types of cough medicines, some available by prescription and others over the counter.

    Codeine is a narcotic cough suppressant that may be prescribed for a cough in severe cases. It works by "turning off" the part of the brain that controls the coughing response. Codeine is a powerful drug and can have side effects, including nausea, sleepiness, and constipation. It can also be highly addictive.

    Dextromethorphan is a common cough suppressant found in many popular over-the-counter medications, usually signified by the initials DM on the label. It is almost as effective as codeine, but is nonnarcotic and reportedly has few side effects. Follow age-specific label directions carefully when using this drug.

    Benzonatate (Tessalon) is a prescription cough suppressant that works by anesthetizing the respiratory tract. Unlike other cough medicines, it comes in capsule rather than liquid form, and is a safer alternative to codeine. The capsules should be swallowed whole, never chewed.

    Expectorants are medications that work by increasing the production of fluids in the respiratory tract, helping to thin and loosen mucus so that it is easier to cough out. Guaifenesin is an expectorant found in many over-the-counter cough formulas. It can cause drowsiness, so if you give your child this drug, follow label directions carefully.

    Throat lozenges, such as Chloraseptic lozenges, coat ant soothe a sore, irritated throat, and may give your child temporary relief. Many over-the-counter lozenges contain food colorings and sugar, however, which a sick child should not ingest. Read the ingredients list and label directions carefully before purchasing throat lozenges.

    Dietary Guidelines
    When your child has a cough, or any other respiratory condition, eliminate potentially mucus-forming foods, especially dairy products.

    Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, preferably at room temperature or warmer. Fluids help to thin mucus and make it easier for your child to cough up. Hot soups and broths are particularly good.

    Nutritional Supplements
    Give your child sugar-free lozenges boosted with vitamin C. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, combats infection, and is soothing and healing to an irritated throat. Give your child one lozenge an hour, as needed.

    (Excerpted from Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child ISBN: 1583331395)
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     About The Author
    Janet Zand LAc, OMDJANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
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