Are cough syrups good for children?

A child suffering from a bout of cough, especially at night can be worrisome for parents. Many parents ask the doctors for a cough relief medicine like a cough syrup. However, are cough syrups helpful in relieving the cough? Happiest Health spoke to experts who opine that without treating the underlying issue, cough syrups won’t help, as cough is only a symptom. Why cough medicine can be harmful to kids “When compared to adults, children tend to cough more. This can be either due to smaller airways which can be easily obstructed or due to their stronger cough reflex,” says Dr Vikas Satwik, pediatrician, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru. Cough syrups can become harmful to kids if parents indiscriminately use it to treat their child’s cough without knowing what is causing it, says Dr Arora. Some cough medicines contain antihistamines which may cause agitation or excitement instead of drowsiness among children, says Dr Satwik. “Cough and cold medicines might have suppressants that are strictly prohibited for children, as they can result in side effects like slowed breathing, which can be life-threatening,” explains Dr Satwik. Alternatives to treat cough in kids According to Dr Satwik, besides cough syrups, parents can choose the following alternatives to cough syrups: Drinking warm fluids: Fluids like caffeine-free tea, broth or hot water with lemon helps loosen up the mucus and soothe a sore throat. Using a humidifier: Humidifier helps ease a child’s breathing as dry air worsens a child’s cough. Encourage steaming: For older children, breathing in warm water vapours helps loosen mucus and provide comfort before sleeping. A spoonful of honey: Giving a teaspoon of honey helps combat coughing. However, honey should only be given to children over the age of one. Ginger and honey: Ginger and honey can be combined into a paste and given to kids as a natural remedy.