Managing coughs, colds and croup in children

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Coughs and colds are an unfortunate fact of life with children. Some kids seem particularly prone to them, passing them back and forth until you feel like you should take out shares in cough medicine and tissues. What can you do to ease the discomfort of the little people in your house who are feeling so unwell?

We’ve teamed up with Children’s Panadol to provide you with lots of quick and helpful information covering many aspects of children’s health and development. We hope you’ll find them a great resource as you take care of your family every day.

Coughs and colds

Children often have up to six colds per year. Colds, and most coughs, are caused by viruses (not bacteria), so antibiotics won’t help. If the cough is bad, and persists, your child may have a chest infection caused by bacteria – if so, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

Children cough to get rid of the mucus from their chest, or when it runs from their nose down the back of their throat. For this reason, you don’t want to stop the cough completely, but you can help ease your child’s distress by soothing it. Offer them extra fluids. Encourage nose blowing if your child is old enough. It is advisable not to use any cough medicines, unless you seek the advice of your family doctor or pharmacist, especially in babies and young children.

What is croup?

Croup is a viral infection that causes swelling of the back of the throat, narrowing the airway and making breathing difficult. It may begin like a normal cold, with a runny nose and cough. Croup can last from several days to up to a week, with the cough lasting longer.

One of the most easily identified signs of croup is a harsh, barking cough, particularly at night. Your child may have noisy or squeaky breathing when they breathe in. Sometimes croup is accompanied by a slight fever and a hoarse voice.

Management of croup at home

Your child may become quite distressed, and so try to comfort them and keep them calm with quiet activities. Offer frequent drinks. You can give paracetamol for a fever after consultation with a doctor.

If your child continues to have trouble breathing or becomes more distressed and unwell, see your family doctor or take your child to hospital straight away.

How to prevent the spread of infection

Many infectious diseases are spread in the air by coughing and sneezing. Teach your children to cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing and to use a tissue when they blow their nose. Don’t put other children in the sick child’s bed. Encourage hand washing.

This is an excerpt from The First Five Years, which is a handy and easy to navigate book, specifically developed to help parents. It contains a comprehensive collection of practical parenting information and useful tips for your child’s first five years. If you’ve ever wanted a quick guide to refer to in the middle of the night, or to help you decide when it’s time to see a doctor, this is a resource which will help you on your way. You can view it online or download it for free at The First Five Years.

(This is a sponsored post for Children’s Panadol)

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