Posts Tagged ‘cough’

Coughing, sniffling, and sneezing…oh my!

Monday, February 16th, 2015

baby_sickbabycareDid you know that by the time most babies are two years old they have had eight to ten colds? Colds in little ones can be very unpleasant. Coughing, sneezing, runny nose…all these symptoms can be more uncomfortable for a baby than for an older child or adult. A baby can’t blow her nose and has a hard time breathing through her mouth. And a stuffy nose can make it difficult for a baby to suck which can affect feeding.

Lots of times you may want to give your little one some over-the-counter medicine to help relieve her runny nose and cough. But it is important to remember that over-the-counter cold medicines can be dangerous for children under two and should not be used.

Colds are caused by viruses and can be spread through the air and on surfaces.  A child or adult can spread a cold directly through a sneeze or cough or indirectly through touching hands and surfaces. For instance, if an infected person coughs into their hand and then shakes someone else’s hand, and that person then touches their nose or mouth, they may catch the cold and the virus is spread.

As we all know, colds are a part of life, and unfortunately there is no treatment. Antibiotics will not cure a cold. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, not viruses. If your baby has a cold accompanied by a mild fever, a single ingredient fever-reducer (such as acetaminophen) can help. But over-the-counter combination medications that treat cold symptoms, such as coughing and runny nose, should not be used in children under age two. These medicines can cause life-threatening side effects in children under two. And according to the American Academy of Pediatrics “…several studies show that cold and cough products don’t work in children younger than six years and can have potentially serious side effects. In addition, keep in mind that coughing clears mucus from the lower part of the respiratory tract, and ordinarily there’s no reason to suppress it.”

So if your baby or child has a cold, what can you do to make her feel better? If your baby is having trouble sucking, try using a rubber suction bulb to help clear her nose before each feeding. Your health care provider may recommend saline (salt water) nose drops to help clear up stuffiness. A cool-mist humidifier in her room may also help—just make sure to clean and dry the humidifier each day to prevent mold and bacteria from developing.

Most children do not need to see a health care provider when they have a cold. However, if you have a baby three months or younger, you should call your pediatrician as soon as you notice any signs of illness. Check out our website for more information about when to call your baby’s provider. And remember, prevention is the best medicine—make sure to keep your infant away from people who are coughing and sneezing, and teach older children about washing hands and the best way to cough and sneeze.

Croup, the barking cough

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

croup1A common childhood illness, croup often starts with mild cold-like symptoms. As the airway swells, the child develops noisy breathing and a cough that sounds like the barking of a seal. Often a child’s symptoms get worse or come on suddenly at night and they can be scary. The symptoms tend to repeat over the next two to three nights, which can be exhausting for everyone.

Croup is an illness that affects the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). Children between 3 months and 3 years of age are most likely to get croup. Their airways are small, and any swelling can make it difficult to breathe. The good news is that most cases of croup, though they need to be monitored closely, are mild and last less than a week.

Croup is caused by viruses that are contagious. The viruses can spread through the air or by touching a contaminated surface, something toddlers do all day long. Less frequently, allergies may cause croup. Your baby can get croup at any time of year, but it is most common between October and March, so it’s time to keep your eyes and ears open for it.

If your little one gets sick, do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to her if she is younger than 2 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and even life-threating side effects.

Steam often helps children with mild cases of croup to breathe easier. I remember those nights when I steamed up the bathroom with hot shower water and sat there with my son or daughter for 15 to 20 minutes. It did seem to help, but if this doesn’t help you, try taking your child outside to breathe cool night air. The cool air helps reduce airway swelling. A cool-water humidifier (vaporizer) in your baby’s room also may help. While your baby has the croup, check on her frequently during the night to make sure the symptoms don’t get worse.

Antibiotics won’t help croup, but call your baby’s health care provider right away if your child develops a barking cough or noisy breathing. Providers sometimes prescribe medications called corticosteroids that reduce swelling in the airways and make breathing easier. Rarely, a child with serious breathing problems may need to be treated with oxygen and medications in the hospital.

Call for emergency medical assistance if your baby:
• Appears to be struggling to get a breath
• Looks blue around the mouth
• Drools and has a lot of trouble swallowing
• Makes louder and louder noises as she inhales (called stridor), especially when resting.

PediaCare cough and cold medicines recalled

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Four types of Pediacare cough and cold medicines for children have been recalled. The recall is a precaution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently found problems at the plant where the medicines were made.

Products recalled include PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold, PediaCare Long-Acting Cough, PediaCare Decongestent, and PediaCare Allergy and Cold medicines. If you have any of these products in your home, stop using them.

A reminder: Do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to infants and children younger than 4 years of age. According to the FDA, these products can have serious and life-threatening side effects. For more information about colds and young children, read the March of Dimes article.

Update: Swine flu

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

doctorYou’ve heard the news. The number of swine flu cases in the U.S. and around the world is increasing. The federal government has declared this a “public health emergency.” What does this mean for moms and babies?

Here are a few things we know:
* A person can catch the swine flu from another person.

* All of us can take simple precautions to protect ourselves and others. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. If you can, avoid sick people. Wash your hands often with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a complete list of tips.

* Early treatment can reduce the severity of the illness.

* A person doesn’t get swine flu from eating or preparing pork.

Here are a few things we don’t yet know:
* How contagious is this flu? If you have a room full of people and one of them has the swine flu, how many other people will catch it?

* How serious is this illness? Right now, no one in the United States has died, and cases appear to be mild. But this could change. Because flu viruses can change over time, they can become more or less serious.

* We don’t know how long swine flu will be around. It could be a few weeks or longer. It could go away for a while and them come back.

Since most of the cases have occurred in Mexico, the CDC recommends that people not travel to that country, unless their travel is “essential.”

Here is a list of symptoms of the swine flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting. If you or any member of your family has any of these symptoms, call your health care provider.

Swine flu outbreak: What it means for you and your family

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

pigSeveral people in the United States have developed swine flu, a respiratory disease that can sometimes be serious. According to the New York Times, hundreds of cases have been reported in Mexico.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A person can get swine flu from a pig or from a human that has the infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into the recent outbreak. For more info, including prevention tips, read the CDC Web page on swine flu.