Tell me about coughs — The Bump
D.C. Area Babies

Tell me about coughs

So, this is going to be a stupid FTM post but DD has her first cough due to cold and I'm not sure if I should be doing something more. She had croup when she was 4 months old but this is not that, obviously. She's never really been acting "sick" but has had a very runny nose for almost a week and the cough started a couple days ago. She's acting normal, sleeping fine (she wakes up coughing occasionally but doesn't cry and goes right back to sleep) and doesn't have a fever. For all these reasons I haven't called the pedi and she was just in there for her 9 month check-up and was fine.

So, my question is when do I call about the cough and what can I do about it? How long should it last? It's not getting worse, but it's not getting better either. Is this just normal? I have a steam/humidifier that we used when she had croup. Should that help? She's at DC today and DCP says she's playing normally and eating and all that, but I just wish the darn cough would go away.

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Re: Tell me about coughs

  • It sounds pretty normal to me.  DS has had a ton of colds and one in particular with a cough that lingered about a week, maybe almost two.  I actually got it first, including the lingering cough so I didn't worry too much about his even though it seemed to stick around a lot longer than his other symptoms. 

    We did use a humidifier, I think it helped a little at night so his throat didn't get so dry.  I figured it couldn't hurt :)

    Other than that, it went away on it's own.  I did wish there was more I could do, but everything says no cough medicine for small kids (under 4 I think) and I couldn't find anything else (other than honey which is bad for kids under 1). I did try and drink OJ in case any of the vitamin C would get to him in my milk, but I doubt that mattered.

    Hang in there and just keep an eye on if if things seem to turn worse or bother her more.

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  • We've had more colds since DD started pre-school in our house than I care to count.  DS (now 11 months) has caught every single one.  Typically we use the humidifier each night, if he's really congested we do the steamy bathroom trick followed by his least favorite form of torture, the nose bulb.  Saline drops for the nose help as do boogie wipes if the nose gets gross.  I also use aquafor below DSs nose if he is really drippy so he doesn't get his skin irritated.  I keep his fluid intake high, lots of on demand nursing and sippy cups of water in between. Since my toddler is the source of all infestations, I try to keep both of their hands and their toys clean.  While I haven't tried it, I've read that Vicks Vapor rub on the feet with socks helps too.

    Truthfully there isn't much you can do.  Cough medicine is a no no.  Until your DD is a year, she can't have honey on a spoon (what we use with my toddler).  And they are not old enough to gargle with salt water.  You really just have to ride it out.  In my experience, it bothers me more than my DS.    

  • I wouldn't worry too much unless the cough gets junky, she starts a fever or it doesn't go away with in a couple weeks.  There isn't much that you can do for babies when they have a cough.  The humidifier is a good idea, but you're not supposed to use cough syrup or Vicks and honey is out until she is one.  Keep her hydrated.  It's probably the post-nasal drip that is making her cough.

    We are on round two of RSV since just before Thanksgiving and both times DD2 had a pretty high fever (102+).  The first time she had no cough, just fever and runny nose, so they tested her on a whim for RSV because she tested negative for everything else (flu, strep, etc).  This time, it's been way worse, with a pretty nasty cough, crazy runny nose and a fever.  I will say that the few days before she really started acting sick, she had a little cough at night but was otherwise fine. 

    Whenever I'm in your situation (trying to figure out when something is really an issue) I usually just call our advice nurse at the pedi, explain the situation and ask them at what point should I be concerned. 

  • I wouldn't worry unless it lasts over a week and isn't getting better (and even then, I wouldn't worry, but I might call the pedi to see if they have any thoughts). I'd use the humidifier at night and try to take her into the bathroom with the shower running. If you think she might have a sore throat in addition to the cough, you can give her some Tylenol. But if she's acting normally and eating fine, I think you just have to ride it out.

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  • DS is the king of coughs. DH and I both had asthma as kids, and I still do, so it doesn't surprise us that it always settles in his chest. The pedi has always told me a cough can last up to 14 days. Unless he is wheezing, there really isn't much they'll do there, either. I used to have a hard time telling wheezing from the "junky" breathing with all the snot and stuff, but it definitely is more of a whistle. If she's playing fine, you're probably just diong the right thing with humidifier/saline drops. With my ds the wheezing/trouble breathing takes too much energy out of him and that's when I know it's time to go to the pedi.
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  • Sounds normal to me. It's probably just post-nasal drip causing the cough, which sucks but isn't a big issue (I just went through this myself). If she's sleeping OK and not otherwise bothered, I wouldn't worry about it.

    The only way I'd be concerned is if she was waking up a lot, seemed cranky, not eating, etc. In the past, J has had ear/sinus infections that were draining down his throat and making him cough and we wouldn't have noticed the infection if it weren't for the coughing. 

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