Current Environment:


A Cough is produced when the body suddenly forces air and secretions from the lungs. It is very important in protecting the lungs against pneumonia. This means we want to encourage a productive cough, not turn it off.

Symptom Management

Homemade Cough Medicine:

  • Age 3 Months to 1 Year: Give warm clear fluids (e.g., apple juice or lemonade) to thin the mucus and relax the airway. Give 1-3 teaspoons 4 times a day. Do not administer honey to anyone under a year of age.
  • Age 1 Year and Older: Use honey ½ - 1 teaspoon as needed. Honey can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. If not available, you can use corn syrup as well.
  • Age 6 Years and Older: Use cough drops to decrease the tickle in the throat. If not available, you may use hard candy.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Cough Medicine:

  • OTC cough medicines are not recommended. They have no proven benefit for children, and are not approved by the FDA in children under 6 years old.
  • Honey has been shown to work better, but may only be used in patients ages 1 Year Old and up.

Coughing Fits or Spells:

Have your child breathe in warm mist, such as in a closed bathroom with the shower running or in a room with a humidifier turned on. After 3 months of age you may also offer warm, clear fluids to drink (e.g., apple juice or lemonade).

Vomiting From Coughing:

For vomiting that occurs with hard coughing, reduce the amount given per feeding (e.g., in infants, give 2 oz or 60 mL less formula).

Encourage Fluids:

Encourage your child to drink adequate fluids to prevent dehydration. This will also thin out the nasal secretions and loosen the phlegm in the airway.

Expected Course

Viral coughs usually last for 2 to 3 weeks. In cases of viral infection, antibiotics are not helpful. Your child may cough up lots of phlegm (mucus). The mucus will normally be gray, yellow, or green.

When to Call the Office

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing occur.
  • The cough is accompanied by chest pain.
  • The cough sounds like a bark or honk.
  • The cough lasts longer than 3 weeks.
  • Your child becomes worse.


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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances