How to Break up Phlegm in 4 Year-old

Updated on September 08, 2015
H.L. asks from Washington, DC
8 answers

Ok, so last time I posted I asked for help with my mosquito magnet 4 yo. Someone suggested menthol ointment on certain parts of body. I continue to spray my son with bite blocker and now add the menthol ointment, too. We've been doing this every day for weeks since the post. NOT.ONE.BUG.BITE. I swear, it's like a miracle.

So, I'm testing my luck again for another miracle.

My son gets bad coughing when he catches a cold that disturbs his naps and overnight sleep. He used to have severe breathing issues with a cold (and only with a cold) until we saw a pulmonologist and got him on an up to 8 day treatment plan of nebulizer meds when he gets a cold (Pulmicort 4/day, Albuterol 4/day, Albuterol inhaler as needed for middle of night, and Fovent and Singulair daily even when healthy.) No more scary asthma attacks - yay! We've been able tostay off oral steroids for 2 years!

But lots of coughing day and night for about 8 days when sick. Doesn't seem like a lot, but when he and I are not sleeping well for that long when he gets sick, it takes its toll. And colds at this age ate still frequent enough. As a result, I practice lots of handwashing and keep him away from anyone that's sick when possible. Of course, it's not always possible (ie - school). I've also trained him, as much as I could, not to touch his eyes, nose or mouth unless we've washed hands. These precautions have been helpful.

Here are things I've tried for the cough that have not helped:
Ensure a not too cold body temp since viruses thrive in colder conditions
Herbal teas
Vicks on chest
Vicks on feet with socks
Cold humidifier
Warm humidifier
Bathroom steaming
No dairy
Lots of honey
Lots of liquids (water, watered-down juices, soups, broths, super hydrating fruits)
Warm liquids
Frequent saline drops
Nose frida
Cupped back patting
Super clean/dustless/miteless room and bed
He eats very healthy, home cooked, and organic meals daily (variety of vegetables, healthy carbs and proteins, fruits - thanks to French Kids Eat Everything method)

It's fine if we continue how things are. Just trying to salvage our sleep when he gets sick, if possible.

Thank you for any suggestions on breaking up phlegm in a young child!!!

Fingers crossed! :)

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answers from Washington DC on

My pediatrician prescribed Bromphen, I don't know they whole official name, but if you google Bromphen it will come up. I give my 3.5 year olds, based on their size, 2.5 ml three times a day and it works wonders. It really is a miracle drug in my family. My neighbor also swears by it with her 4 year old and 2 year old twins. My sister asked her pediatrician about it and he wouldn't prescribe it because he never heard of it, but it maybe worth asking about. I don't know what I would do without it. My pediatrician also suggested a modified dose of Musinex since the label says not to give to under 6, and my boys are only 3.5. The Musinex worked, but the Bromphen worked faster and better.

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answers from Lakeland on

Pick up some Elderberry cough syrup or extract. I swear this is the best stuff ever and it is safe to use for children or adults.

Any health food store will carry them. I prefer the extract, a few drops in some water (or your child's favorite drink) and it breaks up the mucus and opens nasal passages.

Also, cut back on dairy products since that creates more mucus.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Go to the doctor and get a breathing treatment...and some steroids so he can breathe again.

Then get a prescription for a nebulizer and Albuterol vials. They are med mixed with sterile water and he puts on a mask or a device in his mouth and breathes in the mist. It will open him up and the sterile water will moisten the goo where he can cough it up better.

If the doc wants to do an inhaler ask him if you can try the nebulizer too. The inhaler didn't help my kids when they were sick and the goo needed to come up and out. The nebulizer was way more productive.

If he's having that much trouble to to the ER and ask them if they can do a breathing treatment.

Albuterol has some visual side effects but they aren't harmful. The med is sort of like a small shot of adrenaline, they might shake a bit. Albuterol is on the $4 list at and super effective.

If he can't do the Albuterol he can do Xopenex. It's about $110 a box, same size or smaller than the Albuterol, but it is more refined...filtered more? I think that's what the pharmacist told me. It breaks my throat out and turns it tomato red. The kids have Sooner Care and they do really well with the Xopenex so when that insurance will cover the Xopenex we get that for them. No way we can afford it with our limited income.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Our pediatrician recommended Benadryl at the onset of a cold so less mucus in the nose to travel to lungs and cause congested cough. Maybe it helped...

iPhone autocorrected mucus to mud.

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answers from Boston on

Sounds not so little guy (now 14) also has asthma and viruses are one of his triggers (along with extreme temperatures) Flovent every day and he stopped using the Singulair when he was almost 9 (it started giving him hives) ..uses the albuterol as needed...and once every blue moon needs the prednisone --like hasn't had any in like almost 3 years.

Along with all the great stuff you're doing, I'd prop him up in bed with a lot of pillows. And, you didn't mention this this but you may want to check with his doc if you should up the Flovent when he gets sick
This seems to have helped my son throught the years.

Good luck

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answers from Kansas City on

I just wanted to say that I used to have asthma as well. I noticed that even after I quit having attacks, colds would go straight to my lungs for several years after. I would get coughs lasting weeks, well after I felt totally normal.

Similarly, I had one summer where I got hit by the worst stomach bug I've ever heard of, I had serious issues for several days. I had never had a stomach bug before - but I noticed that for a long time afterward, it seemed every time I got sick, it affected my stomach where nothing ever had before.

My personal experience makes me think that once you damage a part of your body like that, even though it may be "healed" it can still be sensitive and prone to disease and discomfort more easily than normal.

This is all just my opinion, I would talk to his doctor, but I bet as more time passes and he gets stronger, it will get easier. Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

The brand names for Bromphen are Zyrtec and Clatirin and many others.
Are you sure your child does not have allergies?
Allergies often morph into a sinus infection.



answers from Portland on

We had a cough similar to that each time mine had colds. My kids were diagnosed as asthmatic from colds. They don't have full on asthma. And they only had the cough. No wheezing. We were given inhalers. I didn't find they were that helpful.

Then our doctor told us to try our son's allergy meds at night - just one (or even half a dose) - to see if that would dry up the post nasal drip. What was happening was after the cold passed, the post nasal drip was still there for a while, and would trickle down his throat at night (from lying down). It would make them cough during the day, but way worse at night.

It would tickle/collect, and he'd cough. So we tried it and it worked. He slept through.

Now he was already on allergy meds (seasonal) so we knew he was safe on them. They dry up the excess fluid from allergies - so I guess they dried up the post nasal drip. Not 100% sure how it works, but our pharmacist backed up what the doctor said.

I would definitely check with a doctor and pharmacist before even trying this of course. But it meant mine could sleep again. I tried all the other things you listed too! Even dust mite covers.

Good luck :)

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