Cough That Won't Go Away

Updated on March 31, 2009
S.T. asks from Erie, CO
28 answers

Hello, my 19 month old daughter has had a cough for the last three months. The severity of it has fluctuated from a bothersome tickle to keeping her up all night. A runny nose (clear or off white mucous) is the only other symptom. She's been to the doctor a couple times and he says he thinks she keeps picking up different viruses. She started daycare about three months ago also and everyone keeps telling me she's just building her immunity and this will go away. It doesn't bother her too much during the day, mainly at night. My problem is that it keeps her up a lot at night and we're all pretty exhausted. I can't give her any cough medicine because my doctor says it can be dangerous for young children and she won't sleep on a pillow to elevate her head. I've tried honey but it doesn't seem to help too much. Any thoughts?

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P.F.

answers from Provo on

Set up a humidifer next to her bed and keep some throat spray near. Both have helped my one child who has suffered from a constant cough. Going to bed early also helps, as the coughing gets worse when he gets fatigued.

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K.H.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Since I don't know where you live, I don't know about the humidity, but you might try a humidifier in her room, try both warm air and cool air and see if that helps open up her breathing. Also, try this. Get some vicks vaporub or other methol stuff like it, slather that on her feet and put on socks. I didn't believe it until I tried it on myself, but my cough stopped in about 5 minutes and I slept all night w/o interruption.

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E.K.

answers from Denver on

I have a friend who was describing exactly this same problem. She learned her daugher was allegic to grapes (all colors). It would stay in her system for about 3 days. Once this was discovered, the grapes were stopped and the cough went away!

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C.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I had the same problem a few months back with my daughter who is about the same age. She would wake up multiple times a night with horrible "dry" coughing spells and sometimes when she was napping.(she did this for several months straight) The docter said a cough that seems to last that long usually has an underlying cause. We ruled out virus because my other children had no symptoms. He put her on an alergy med and after about a month of that not seeming to help he put her on steroids for a few days (to clear up the cough quickly)along with an asthma med. Within 3 days she slept through the night!!! It was wonderfull!

A little about me: I am married to a wonderful husband for almost 8 years. I have 3 children; 2 boys ages 6 and 3 1/2 and a little girl who just turned 2, I am also expecting another girl in July. I work at home part time and enjoy being a mom.

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S.S.

answers from Provo on

Essential oils work great for children! Look up my website for some great ones: www.mydoterra.com/sharontheoils. Look up "Breathe" and OnGuard,blends, as two that will help breathing and build the immune system. Make sure you dilute both with olive oil or coconut oil. The OnGuard would go on the bottom of the feet, and the Breathe on the chest and in a warm humidifier or )for both oils)a diffuser. Good luck whatever you try. OH, my mom used a good one for night coughing- butter mixed with sugar (I'd add lemon essential oil, although very little). We kids loved it and our cough went away.
Make sure whatever essential oils you use, the label doesn't say for aromatherapy use only. Only ingest CPTG oils, like doTerra!

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J.P.

answers from Denver on

Have you tested her for allergies? I had a friend that's daughter had the same thing and it turned out she was allergic to milk and a couple other things. Might be worth looking into.
J.

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C.C.

answers from Salt Lake City on

we just went through this, I finally went into the doc and he said allergies. She's been on claritin for 3 days and is actually sleeping! yay! instead of waking up coughing. I'd ask about allergies. they weaken the immune system so it is easier to pick up the other viruses as well. I'm just glad we are both finally sleeping!!!

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J.S.

answers from Fort Collins on

Have you thought about taking your child in to have a spinal checkup. She may have a subluxation (a fancy way of saying that her vertebrae may have slipped out of alignment) and it could be pinching on the nerves that control her immune system.

Chiropractic care is especially helpful with small children as it can help with colic, frequent ear infections, frequent colds, etc...Most chiropractors will do a free consultation and exam for your child - it might be worth it to see the condition your child's spine is in and if that might be affecting why she is getting sick.

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K.C.

answers from Cheyenne on

I had the same problem with my son. Like many of the other responses it turned out he has alleries and asthma. I would get that checked out. Also, I don't know if this is the reason your not using cough medicine, but to the other moms asking, there have been recent studies that show cough syrup can be dangerous for young children. Just an added note to respond to another post, I think it would be a mistake not to have your child tested for allergies and ashtma. It may not be those things, but if it is, allergies and asthma left untreated can turn into much worse that just an annoying cough. I'd rather know.

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L.K.

answers from Provo on

I'm sure you've had a lot of response that are similar to mine! But just incase I want to share with you mine experience! My 3 year old has had a cough for about 4 months as well. I took her to the doctor a couple times and they told me the same thing, that she is probably going from one virus to the next. One of the doctors gave her medicine to take just incase she did have an infect and that didn't seem to help. But he also told me to try children Claritin and that has been the only thing that seems to help. When I stop with the Claritin she has a cough again within a few days! So try Claritin and hopefully that will help your daughter as well! After she's was on Claritin for a short while I took her off of it and she's was fine for a couple weeks. She started coughing a little last Friday so I gave her a Claritin and she's been great since! Sorry for the rambling, but hopefully that helps!

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

Try a humidifier in her room. The cool or warm mist opens up their airways. Also see if her Dr will let you use the Vicks Vapor plug ins, they fill the room with that smell and always help my kids sleep better. They last for 8 hours. Honey nor the vapor rub (which they say not to use until they are two now) never did anything to help ease the coughing.
I would consider having her checked for allergies too, drainage from allergies can cause coughs ongoing.
My daughter around that same age started getting every little virus that went around, her glands were swollen all the time and finally we had her tonsils out and adnoids out and it was like a miracle! Her adnoids were HUGE and she was so petite they were causing sleep apnea and her immune system was really low.
Teething can cause excess mucus too, so when laying down it can pool and cause irratation and coughs. Put a pillow under her crib mattress, so it is elevated, try a humidifier, saline drops and see if you can try the Vapor Plugs.
If that doesnt' help and she is constantly getting sick, find out if her adnoids are too enlarged and take her to an ENT not just her Pediatrician. My daughter never got strep but her tonsils continued to hold onto infections and she never could catch up getting over things. Now at 7 she is RARELY EVER sick and sleeps like a dream.
Hugs.

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C.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

You might try rubbing Vicks Vaporub on the soles of her feet and then covering them with socks. It sounds a little strange but it has worked for us. I had heard about it, then my daughter tried it on one of her little ones and she told me it worked on him. I tried it on my husband and the coughing quickly stopped. Good luck.

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J.W.

answers from Pueblo on

We are going through the same thing right now. My 15 month old started with croup a few weeks ago and now has a nasty cough that lasts forever through the night. I get up with him, but am still too tired to do much right away, so we are both up until I can wake up enough to help.

I also give him honey (that's fun in the middle of the night, isn't it?), but put a few drops of lemon oil in it (like an essential oil). It seems to make the duration shorter. I also hold him upright and clap him on the back and chest. Do it a little harder than burping to loosen up the junk. If you have a massager, you can try a drop of pine oil on his chest, then massage it in. Vicks on the back, chest and feet are supposed to help, but haven't for us. If you've never used it though, make sure you stay with her the first time b/c it can make her wheeze.

We went to the ped yesterday who said the croup was a virus (no antibiotics), but the cold which ensued make enough mucous in the nasal passages to create a sinus infection (amoxicillian). He is now on a 10 day course.

Today, I will take him to our pediatric chiropractor. She is a lifesaver for everything. We may have to go back 2 or 3 times, but she will solve the problem. (She was on vacation last week or we would have gone to her before the doctor).

You didn't say why you can't give her cough medicine, but for my daughter, we have used a cough suppressant just for nighttime so she could sleep.

Good luck from one tired mama to another. I hope you find your answer. Please share with us for more suggestions!

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T.N.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My son had the same thing and was FINALLY diagnosed with Asthma.

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K.D.

answers from Denver on

I was also thinking allergies. We recently got permission to give our little one Delsym and it worked great. You didn't mention why you can't use the cough syrup, but I'd check with the doctor on the Delsym. Allergies would be harder to treat, but our son uses Allegra occasionally and he started it at 18 mos. It works great for him. If you can't use a pillow to elevate her, have you tried elevating the crib like for reflux? I hope you get some sleep soon!

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C.H.

answers from Denver on

Do your very best to restructure your life so that she doesn't have to go to daycare. Make a plan. Yes, I understand that you might not be able to implement that plan TODAY, but if you have a goal, at least you'll achieve it eventually, so that she's not in daycare all the way until kindergarten. Good luck!

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K.D.

answers from Colorado Springs on

S., my son has had thes same kind of issues. Get a warm humidifier and put it in her room at night. Also, baby vicks on her chest and the bottoms of her feet. That has all worked wonders for my son!

E.B.

answers from Fort Collins on

My son has had a chronic cough in the past and we used a humidifer in his room and he drank Peppermint tea with honey. He loved it and called it his Candy Cane juice. The peppermint helps by actually numbing the throat alittle to lessen the urge to cough. We also drink a smoothie everyone morning with kifer (probiotics)and lots of fresh fruit in it. My son has been in daycare (in my home) since he was born and he is very rarely sick despite the others constantly trading something around. I strongly believe that it is due to his healthy diet.You can also try elevating the foot of her bed rather than just her head with a pillow.

Good Luck

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A.B.

answers from Boise on

do you have any history of asthma in your family? Both my kids had pretty bad coughs too, my son would cough all night long and it would keep him awake. My doctor told me that it was asthma and that a night cough was the sometimes the only symptom. They were both put on singular and haven't had a problem since. Her runny nose could also be a sign of an allergy, usually to dairy products. You could have her allergy tested to see. I hope this helps at all!

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D.R.

answers from Denver on

Yes, it's daycare! My 15 mo DD started back up in daycare after a 2 month hiatus and now is starting the immunity process all over again (she was not sick the entire 2 mos we had her out!). She was sick the second day back! The daycare people said it takes 2 years for a kid in daycare to build up immunity. Ack. I use the bubble bath especially made for kiddos w/ colds (it has euchalyptus, rosemary, and some other stuff in it), and also put a little vicks vapor rub on her chest at night. Also try tilting her crib or bed a bit. I finally also put a pillow in there. I know at one point in all of this, NOTHING worked, so just hang in there. It will pass soon.

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M.E.

answers from Denver on

The best thing you can do is improve her immune system. She needs 7-13 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables everyday. I know this seems impossible, and luckily there is a way to bridge the gap between what she needs to eat and what she actually eats. You might want to try the Juice Plus Gummies or Chewables (They have 17 fruits, vegetables and grains). They are proven to build up the immune system and many people have gotten relief from some of their allergies and asthma by taking Juice Plus. Check out my web site for some more information and some DVD's on the power of Juice Plus to improve health. www.mejuiceplus.com . Feel free to contact me if you have other questions about nutrition and health and Juice Plus. M.

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H.G.

answers from Pueblo on

My toddler has been suffering the same exact symptoms for the past 3 months. Her doctor had us get chest x-rays. The results showed that it might be asthma. We are having her evaluated for asthma and or allergies next week by a specialist. Check with your pediatrician and see if you can get a referral for an evaluation.

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M.E.

answers from Denver on

My son was sick the entire first year he was in daycare. When he was stuffed up we used to put the end of his crib up on a couple of books to elevate his head, and we use a humidifier constantly. Don't rush to get your daughter diagnosed with asthma. My husband has asthma (not bad, but he uses Advair daily) and he cannot get outside health insurance because of it.

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L.C.

answers from Denver on

Hi S.,
I'm sorry your child has been sick for so long. This is a huge misconception out there that you child has to build an immunity. What we really need to do is to build our immunity. We'll how do you do that? It's simple but hard at the same time. Alot of it has to do with diet, less processed foods and more fruits and veggies. Sugar actually supresses the immune function and fruits and veggies build it up.

There are a few things I do for my son/family to help promote a healthy immune system. We eat plenty of fruits and veggies. We don't have sodas/candies/etc in the house because they suppress the immune function. I've added Juice Plus to our diet instead of a multi-vitamin. The reason I chose Juice Plus is because there are actual scientific studies that Juice Plus supports the immune system.

My son has been eating the Juice Plus gummies since he was 11 months (actually he's a JP baby)and he has only been to the doctor once in 3 1/2 years!!!!!! (of course I take him for wellness visits)
This isn't to say we don't get sick, my son will get a runny nose here and there, but that is as far as it has gone!

There was such an impact on our families health from taking this product, I can't help but to share it with other moms (actually decided not to go back to my JOB, because helping families is so rewarding)!

Please call me if you'd like to know more or how to get started.
L.
###-###-####
www.DenverJuicePlus.com

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M.P.

answers from Denver on

We put a pillow or blanket under one end of the crib mattress. The baby doesn't always stay in the right position, but it does help in the beginning of the night.

We also use a humidifier.

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P.D.

answers from Denver on

Could be allergies. Is her nose mucous clear?

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C.B.

answers from Denver on

Allergies or Asthma is my guess/
C. B

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M.M.

answers from Denver on

Hi there S.,

I went through the same thing with my daughter when she first started daycare. She was sick all the time, and I was told the same thing. She's "building immunity". She will get better as time goes on. As far as her cough, have you tried sitting in the bathroom and letting her breath in the steam from the shower ? This works best at night, it will ease the cough, I would suggest sitting in the bathroom for at least 15-20 min. Bring in a book and read to her.

Hope this helps.

A little about me: 25 year old single mother of one daughter. She's 3 going on 13, but it's the greatest thing in the world to see.

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