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Treating the Common Cold in Children

Coughing helps to clear mucous from the airways but can be uncomfortable for your child. Besides irritating the throat and making it sore, coughing can keep your child up at night, adding to their misery.

There are things you can do to decrease your child's coughing:

  • If your child has a runny nose, the cough may be triggered by mucous dripping down the back of the throat. In that case, treating the stuffy nose may decrease the coughing.

  • Your child could be coughing because the back of their throat is irritated. Cough drops (lozenges) that contain menthol feel cool and can make the throat feel better and decrease coughing, but these should only be used for children over age four because younger children could choke on them.

  • Cough medicines containing dextromethorphan are available without a prescription. Studies have shown them to not be much more helpful than a placebo, but if the cough is keeping your child awake at night, you could give one a try. Check with your doctor before giving your child any medication, and be sure to read dosage directions carefully.

  • Elevating the head at night by putting a folded blanket under the crib mattress or using an extra pillow for older children may help if mucous running down the throat is causing the cough.

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