It can be frightening for any parent when their baby develops a sudden cough, but if they understand the causes of infant cough, they can know that not every cough is dangerous and be alert for the ones that are. Since infants cannot tell their parents why they are coughing, it is a good idea to know the differences between the several different types of coughs that can crop up. In some cases, coughing can be a sign of a serious infection and can lead to breathing issues that can weaken an infant’s lungs, resulting in hospitalization or even death. Early detection and evaluation is key when it comes to dealing with a cough.
A dry infant cough
There are usually two types of infant cough: dry and wet. When infants cough, the body is trying to rid itself of either some kind of irritant, or it is trying to expel mucus from the bronchial passages or the throat. If the cough is dry, this might be a sign that the air in the baby’s room is too dry. Placing a humidifier in the room, (well away from the baby’s crib and in a safe, open area,) will keep the room more comfortable every evening for baby’s sleep. If parents do opt to use a humidifier, they should check it daily for leakage or frays in the power cord for optimum safety. Another reason for a dry cough might be allergies, which are sometimes hereditary. Parents who suffer from outdoor allergies, such as dust, pollen, or animal dander, may pass these along to their child. Allergies can be easily treated with over-the-counter drops or a prescription from a pediatrician.
A wet infant cough
When a baby has a wet cough, parents should be on alert, as this is the type of infant cough that can be dangerous or even fatal, especially in very young babies. Coughs that produce a great deal of mucus, make a barking sound, or causes the child to wheeze may be a sign of an upper respiratory infection or bronchitis, both of which can develop into pneumonia if they are not treated in time. Both of these ailments can cause the lungs to fill with fluid, which can impair or even stop breathing. While a wet cough may also be the result of the common cold, it should be treated right away, as infants have less immunity than older children and can become sicker faster. In newborns, coughing can be a sign of a potentially fatal virus, which should be addressed instantly. While some barking coughs can sound alarming, they are quite common in older babies who contract a cold, and they can be treated easily. Hot baths, warm clothing, and warm drinks can quiet a cough for infants over six or seven months, but parents should be advised that honey, which is often used in teas to soothe sore throats, should never be given to a baby who is under one year of age because of the danger of infant botulism. Baths, warm but comfortable clothing, and lots of cuddles will soothe both infant cough and parents’ worries alike.