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Care at Home

  • HOMEMADE COUGH MEDICINE: * Goal: Decrease the irritation or tickle in the throat that causes a dry cough. * AGE 3 months to 1 year: Give warm clear fluids to treat the cough. Examples are apple juice and lemonade. Amount: Use a dose of 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml). Give 4 times per day when coughing. Caution: Do not use honey until 1 year old. * AGE 1 year and older: Use HONEY ½ to 1 teaspoon (2-5 ml) as needed. It works as a homemade cough medicine. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. If you don't have any honey, you can use corn syrup. * AGE 6 years and older: Use COUGH DROPS to coat the sore throat. If you don't have any, you can use hard candy.
  • NON-PRESCRIPTION COUGH MEDICINE (DM): * Non-prescription cough medicines are not advised. Reason: No proven benefit for children and not approved under 4 years old. (FDA 2008.) * Honey has been shown to work better for coughs. (Caution: Do not use honey until 1 year old). * If age over 4 years old, you might decide to use a cough medicine. Choose one with dextromethorphan (DM). It's present in most non-prescription cough syrups. * When to Use: Give only for severe coughs that interfere with sleep or school. * DM Dose: See Dose Table. Give every 6 to 8 hours as needed.
  • COUGHING FITS OR SPELLS: * Breathe warm mist (such as with shower running in a closed bathroom). * Give warm clear fluids to drink. Examples are apple juice and lemonade. Don't use before 3 months of age. * Amount. If 3 - 12 months of age, give 1 ounce (30 ml) each time. Limit to 4 times per day. If over 1 year of age, give as much as needed. * Reason: Both relax the airway and loosen up any phlegm.
  • VOMITING: * For vomiting that occurs with hard coughing, give smaller amounts per feeding. * In infants, give 2 ounces (60 ml) less formula. * Reason: Vomiting from coughing is more common with a full stomach.
  • HUMIDIFIER: * If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Reason: Dry air makes coughs worse.
  • FEVER: * For fevers above 102° F (39° C), give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. See Dose Table. Note: Lower fevers are important for fighting infections. * For ALL fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids. * For babies, dress lightly. Don't wrap in too many blankets. Reason: Can make the fever higher.
  • RETURN TO SCHOOL: * Your child can go back to school after the fever is gone. * Your child should also feel well enough to join in normal activities. * For practical purposes, the spread of coughs and colds cannot be prevented.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Viral bronchitis causes a cough for 2 to 3 weeks. * Sometimes, your child will cough up lots of phlegm (mucus).  The mucus can normally be gray, yellow or green.   * Antibiotics are not helpful.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Trouble breathing occurs * Wheezing occurs * Cough lasts more than 3 weeks * Your child becomes worse
  • AVOID TOBACCO SMOKE: * Tobacco smoke makes coughs much worse.
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Coughs are a normal part of a cold. * Coughing up mucus is very important. It helps protect the lungs from pneumonia. * A cough can be a good thing. We don't want to fully turn off your child's ability to cough. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • EXTRA ADVICE- ALLEGY MEDICINE FOR ALLERGIC COUGH: * Allergy medicine can bring an allergic cough under control within 1 hour. The same is true for nasal allergy symptoms. * Benadryl or Chlorpheniramine (CTM) products are very helpful. No prescription is needed. * Give every 6 to 8 hours until the cough is gone. See Dose Table.
  • FLUIDS: * Try to get your child to drink lots of fluids. * Goal: Keep your child well hydrated. * It also will thin out the mucus discharge from the nose. * It also loosens up any phlegm in the lungs. Then it's easier to cough up.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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