What to do?

I’ve got another question for you all seeing as you were so helpful last time. What do you do when your baby can’t shake a cough? Little C has had a cough now for quite a few weeks. It alternates from being dry and chesty to rattly and wheezy. I just spoke to my mum and she says I should give him Baby Panadol every night until it clears. She is a big fan of pharmaceuticals, obviously!

I have been just trying to let it clear naturally. But it really isn’t going anywhere and my mum says that unless I treat it soon it might develop into bronchiolitis. As you might remember, he is nine months old and going to child care – so constantly exposed to germs. He doesn’t have a cold at the moment and is in good spirits. Just coughs a lot. What do you think I should do: let it run its course or intervene?

-Natalie

18 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Emily | March 27, 2009 | Reply

My 6 month old is going through the EXACT same thing. I’m anxious to see what folks have to say.

2. Karen | March 27, 2009 | Reply

Hello Natalie,

My son is 22 months old and also suffers from colds and coughs. It usually takes him two weeks to get over it and then a week later he gets another one. My Dad-in-law, who is a GP, says that each time he gets a cold he is getting stronger as he becomes immune to it — apparently there are always about 120 different colds/flus hanging around each time.

However, I don’t want to alarm you, but my son also had ‘walking pnuemonia’ once. It is very hard to diagnose and they sort of knew it was that when his cough did not shake for ages and his coughs got worse at night. I was given a course of antibiotics.

Here is a link I found for you to look at: http://pediatrics.about.com/od/pneumonia/a/walking_pneumon.htm

As I said, don’t be too alarmed…

3. Esther | March 27, 2009 | Reply

I would see a doctor and let him/her check your baby’s lungs and airways. If there is no sign of infection I would probably not intervene. I’m also not a big fan of medication!

4. Criso | March 27, 2009 | Reply

my 22 month old son has had a cough on and off since October when he started day care, most doctors I’ve seen say this is not uncommon, it may last till later spring early summer. the only good thing about it is as it has been said, that he’s getting more immune to it.
I take him to the doctor just to check whether there is throat infection or bronchitis, otherwise lots of care, liquids until he gets over it. normally medicine coughs don’t make a change for common colds.
patience and serenity

5. Allison | March 27, 2009 | Reply

Hi Natalie:
My 3 month old son has the same thing and unfortunately, it is Bronchiolitis, which my Pediatrician says is VERY common – especially in the winter months. She said not to be alarmed if the cough lasts for over two weeks and to only be concerned if the coughing accompanies a “wheezing” that induces difficulty breathing. She said to monitor how often you see the baby’s chest compressing and if it is more than 60 times per minute, then take the baby to the hospital. Otherwise, her suggestion was to use a humidifier if the cough seems dry and just try to let the cough run it’s course. As Criso posted, medicine does not help the cough. Sorry, I wish I had a magic cure to tell you, but just waiting it out is the best advice she said she could give. She did mention that if the baby is over 1 year old a little honey can sometimes ease a sore throat if you think the little one has one as a result of all the coughing.
Good luck,
Allison

6. Karen | March 28, 2009 | Reply

Me again…

I just wanted to clarify that I was not diagnosing Little C. Definitely not, as I am not a doctor. But when I read your entry, they were similar symptoms to my son. And just thought it is something you can check when you do see the doctor.

7. MoaningMum | March 28, 2009 | Reply

As the daughter of a doctor – and having suffered a similar bought of coughing with my baby – i was reminded that coughing is the body’s way of expelling unwanted substances…so it’s a good thing. Once anything bronchial is ruled out then it’s all good I reckon :)

8. KatieR. | March 28, 2009 | Reply

If there are no other signs of illness, perhaps it is allergies. My son had a cough for weeks like the one you are describing, and it turned out that he was allergic to household dust and pet dander. He was put on a allergy syrup for nighttime coughing, and I vacuumed up the dust bunnies under his crib every few days. It helped a LOT, and the coughing stopped.

He actually grew out of it as he got older, as the pediatrician told me it might. Hope that helps!

9. Ruth Forsyth | March 28, 2009 | Reply

I have been driven mad with both my little ones (aged 21 months and 6) and their seemingly endless coughs which have been ongoing since November. I finally got the older one’s to clear up with help from a homeopath, this was a last result after lots of antibiotics etc. the younger one however is still coughing but I think it is slowely clearing up for him too with his homeopathic remedies.

10. Rosie | March 28, 2009 | Reply

By all means, if you’re not sure what’s going on, see a good doctor, and use your good judgement.

A wonderful natural resource is Pranic Healing, which is a form of Energy Healing. My partner is a practicing Pranic Healer, and has great success with the people who come to him, including myself and children, for all sorts of ailments. As it is completely non-invasive and doesn’t involve any medication, it might interest you. I have spoken to him and he’s more than happy to give your little one a diagnosis and treatment. If you’d like to try it, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. (You’ll need to let me know asap though, as starting Monday afternoon, he’s going to be unreachable for the next 5 days).

He uses a number of techniques that are exceptionally complementary to allopathic medicine, (for people who like to hedge their bets) and can most often let one avoid ending up having to go with harsh medication (ie the ever-too-easily prescribed antibiotics).

Another thing that has helped keep my two boys healthy for years, something wonderful that is available in France, and possibly elsewhere, is “Sterimar” – (Emilie might know it – Bonjour Emilie!). This is quite simply a pressurised can of sterilised sea water that is used to wash the inside of the nose. It’s vey gentle and I would use it at the slightest sign of a sniffle, about 3 times a day, and this would seem to knock it in the bud straight away. I had really good results with this, as prevention rather than cure, but it is also marvellous during a full on cold/flu/infection (along with a warm salt water gargle….but that’s not for your little one yet). It can be a little strange to get used too at first, try it yourself a few times, but if the little ones get used to it young, they’ll happily do the little squirt up the nose themselves. My boys know that it beats ending up being sick and not being able to play rugby. There are a few different brands of this type of product, and also versions specially for babies, from about 6 months onwards.

Ouf! Hope I haven’t bored you all to tears, and that this will be helpful.

Voila! All the best,

Rosie

11. More than Just a Mother | March 28, 2009 | Reply

Aw, I hope things improve soon.
When my smalls have coughs and colds I use vaporub on their chests, or put a bit of olbas oil in a dish of hot water in their room. A small bowl of water on the radiator will stop the air from getting too dry, too. Baby massage is good for shifting mucous, but look it up – you need to get it right!

12. Petrina | March 28, 2009 | Reply

I would definitely have him checked by a doctor just to confirm that there is nothing on his chest. It is usually innocent. If there is something underlying it is much better to know early. The cough can take a while to pass but if it lingers for a long time I would always check it, to be sure.

My now 2.5 yr old developed a cough in his first winter that didn’t move, but fluctuated between dry and rattly until the weather changed. The following winter it reappeared and we braced ourselves for the ‘virus season’ (Oct-Feb). Unfortunately he was knocked sideways by a typical upper resp virus (croup) and a pneumonia at the same time. A highly unusual combination. Thankfully the Dr. identified the pneumonia straight away on listening to his chest however I did have to persuade her to listen to his chest – mother’s intuition.

It may help to know things to look for to detect if your child’s breathing is compromised. Allison mentioned the importance of a breathing rate of less than 60 per min, also if you notice your child’s nostrils flaring or if you see a decompression at the base of the neck or between the ribs, on inhalation that is a sign the child is working harder then it should to breathe so see a doctor.

Now coming out the other side of his 3rd winter, we know that he has a tendency to allergies (dust – as mentioned in another post) and maybe asthma but they can’t diagnose that fully until a child is 4. We have used the dehumidifier regularly when the heating is on which helps hugely. We also removed all his soft toys (dust haven) and wash all his bedding (pillows, duvet etc) on high heat every week.

All these things have helped hugely and he is coping with the virus season like any other child – green nose and cough now and again! And yes they do begin to develop immunity by 3 (don’t they?!!!) I certainly feel as if we have ticked off a fair number of that 120 you mentioned.

13. Wen | March 28, 2009 | Reply

HI, at first use a vapurub called ‘Luuf”, homeopathic and young babyfriendly till age 3 at least (i still use it, my twin boys are 4 years old now, living in amsterdam, born in singapore where we lived for many years, so i saw 2 sides of the world in medical care and i can assure you that the asian method to simply treat children when they are sick using their excellent healthcare facilities and well trained docters, is much preferred by me than the very dutch way of simply not treating children when they are really suffering – i’m dutch so hey, i can easily say this about my ‘own’ people!-)

When with 1 of my boys at age 3, a bad coughing at night was not treated here in amsterdam – despite my outspoken worries, and i did not trust it for it did not go away for another 3 weeks (6 in total!, child was also happy and active during the day) and so took him back to the familydocter to demand antibiotics (which in singapore i would have gotten already and nothing wrong with that if it is only 2x a year or so, it was not invented for nothing..) who then discovered that it was indeed serious infection of the upper resp canals/airways, and a week of antibiotics was given immediately…within 3 days the child was feeling so much better, no coughing and it all cleared, child prospered even more than before…so get to a doctor, be a nice yet demanding mum, speak up and get your child back in top condition!
Hope this message finds you well…good luck,
Wen

14. Emilie | March 28, 2009 | Reply

Rosie is right, here in France, doctors and the whole society recommend clearing a kids nose with saline solution several times a day. (BTW is is also common practice for adult to rise out there nose with saline solution. They have these insane contraptions here that make saline solution shoot up your nostril for maximum effect). Anyway, we clean our kids noses with saline solution several times a day. They really dislike it, but I do think it works.

15. faq | March 31, 2009 | Reply

Hi, it seems our 18 mo old catches some kind of cold or virus every other month, particularly in the winter, and because we keep him busy with social activities. So when the cough and congestion comes around, we use saline and an aspirator to clear out his nose, and also steam him in the shower (assuming he doesn’t have a fever) a few times a day to make his nose run. He also sleeps with a cool mist humidifier in his room at night. Otherwise, I read that Vicks isn’t recommended for his age, nor is cough medicine until they’re older, so basically we end up letting it run its course…

16. JaNae | April 1, 2009 | Reply

definitely a humidifier, baby massage, & if they are old enough a teaspoon of honey before bed. When my daughter had gotten a cold & after the cough had lingered for a month (it wasn’t such a bad cough, in my opinion, to go see the doctor) my chiropractor suggested some childrens acidophilus (probiotics) & within a week her cough was gone.

17. Katie | April 2, 2009 | Reply

Hi Natalie, I’m a doctor training in paediatrics and also the mother of a 7 month old girl. My advice would be to get him checked by your GP, who can take a full history of exactly what has been happening and have a listen to his chest. It might be one of a few different things and I’d rather not speculate on exactly what without seeing him! Definitely don’t give him daily panadol. It won’t work- it’s a pain killer only and has no effect on coughs and colds. Also, don’t give him a cough suppressant, that can make things worse. Good luck, I hope he gets better soon. Unfortunatly we’re coming into the “virus season” so they may be more of it to come over winter. Good luck! Katie

18. Natalie Walton | April 6, 2009 | Reply

Wow. Thank you all SO much. I’ve been reading your messages as they’ve trickled in. Only now just having a chance to reply. My mum ended up taking him to the doctor (she looks after him one day a week) and it turns out he did have bronchilitis and a secondary infection. He was given a course of antibiotics and, I’m happy to say, he is a week or so later, back to his cheery old self. Oh, how I missed my happy little bean. Thank you again. I really appreciated your tips and advice.

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