Coughs and Colds

A cough is a body’s reflex to clear its airways of dust, irritants or mucus.  The most common cause of cough is a cold and unfortunately there are a lot of colds around at this time of year!  Coughing can disrupt sleep and cause irritation and distress to babies and their parents.  There are several different types of cough in kids, which I will outline

  • A chesty / productive cough -This is a cough where mucus is present. A post nasal drip often is present at the same time causing mucus to travel from the nasal passageways and sinuses down into the chest. A post nasal drip is often the result of a cold, sinus infection or allergies. The best ways to treat congestion are outlined below. Ensure your baby is taking plenty of fluids. If a fever is present and the baby is lethargic or out of sorts then bring them to a doctor to rule out an infection. Once your baby is over two years they will be able to take exputex or viscolex cough bottles which are great for breaking up mucus and making the cough easier to clear.
  • A dry / irritating cough – This is a cough without the presence of mucus. It is often due to infection, an allergen or some form of irritant such as dust, pollen, or smoke. It can be treated with nasal saline to remove any irritants. You can also treat this cough with the following cough bottles  – Pharmony throat syrup (4months plus), nelsons sootha (1 year plus), glycerine lemon and honey (1 year plus)
  • A barking cough – This type of cough indicates inflamed or constricted airways. If it is as a result of croup it will generally get worse at night. Croup is viral.It’s worth using a Vicks warm steam vaporiser in the bedroom overnight or carry your baby out doors into cool fresh air which often reduces the coughing episode. If the cough persists or your baby shows any signs of having difficulty breathing, then don’t hesitate in bringing them to the doctor.
  • A wheezy cough – Wheeze on breathing can indicate asthma or bronchiolitis which is an infection of the airways within the lungs – a doctor’s visit is required.
  • A whooping cough -A cough that is followed by a whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection called pertussis. The sound is as a result of the baby taking deep breaths after coughing all of the air in their lungs out. Contact your doctor if this occurs as medical treatment is required.

When caring for a baby with a cough you should visit the doctor if any of the following occur with your baby:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Irregular breathing.
  • Blue tone to the lips or face.
  • A high fever over 39 degrees Celsius.
  • Babies younger than three months coughing regularly for more than a few hours.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Whooping sound.
  • Lethargic or out of sorts.
  • Signs of dehydration such as drowsiness.vicks-warm-steam-vaporizer

My favourite product for soothing coughs in kids is the Vick Warm Steam Vaporiser as it helps to break down mucus in chesty coughs and moistens the airways in dry irritating coughs.  It’s a natural option which is fantastic for troublesome night time coughs as it stays on for 12-14 hours and then shuts off automatically once all of the water you placed in the drum has been released as steam.  This product helps to prevent infection and prevents your child’s body from losing essential moisture.It’s fantastic at helping with coughs but also nasal congestion so really useful for any cough and cold symptoms your little one may develop. My top tip would be to add a couple of drops of Olbas for children into the little blue dish on the top of the vapouriser at times of severe nasal congestion as this can stop mucus from building up and can reduce nasal drip which in turn means less coughing


Available from Grant’s Pharmacy.

Cough bottles which are suitable for young children, licensed for use in Ireland are:

Nelsons sootha – This is a 6c homeopathic bryonia mixture which contains purified honey and zesty lemon.  It is free from colourings, flavourings and alcohol.  As it contains honey it is only suitable from one year of age.  It can sooth sore throats and reduce irritation which can help reduce a dry or irritating cough.  Lemon is also useful for breaking down mucus so I consider this cough bottle a bit of an all-rounder.

Available from Grant’s Pharmacy.A great homeopathic option from 12 months!

Glycerine, lemon and honey – This has a similar mode of action to Nelsons Sootha but without the bryonia.  The honey and glycerine s
ooth sore and irritated throats which can reduce the severity of an irritating cough. Lemon will help with the breakdown of mucus. It is suitable from one year.



Pharmony throat syrup – This product is great as it does not contain honey which means it is suitable for use from four months of age.  It contains lemon and aniseed which soothes the baby’s throat and reduces dryness and irritation in the throat which can be the cause of a cough.

Available from Grant’s Pharmacy. Great as suitable from 4 months!



There is a great new product for Adults and children over 12 called Bronchostop – available from Grant’s Pharmacy

Bronchostop Cough syrup contains a combination of ingredients not commonly found in other cough products used to relieve any cough: dry, tickly, chesty, mucus or catarrh.Bronchostop is available in traditional cough syrup for at home, and in convenient, on-the-go pastilles.  Bronchostop is a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve any cough, based on traditional use only.

  • Non-drowsy
  • Alcohol-free
  • Sugar-free syrup
  • Suitable for adults and children over 12 years.

Nasal Congestion

Saline nasal sprays are a great way to clear their little noses before a feed or before bed.

Available from Grant’s Pharmacy. I would recommend the Calpol nasal saline spray as it seemed the gentlest spray.  It’s suitable from birth. Some of the other sprays can be a little stronger and can give them more of a fright!

Some people prefer the saline nasal drops like the nasosalbrand which are also suitable from birth.

If a baby is very congested Vicks steam vaporiser which can be left running overnight in their bed room –This product helps to keep mucus thin and running and stops it accumulating in the chest. It can help to reduce the risk of infection and offers great relief of symptoms of coughs and colds in babies  – as mentioned above– especially overnight when they can be most troublesome!


If your baby is persistently congested or their mucus is a colour other than clear such as yellow, green or red then do bring them to their GP. Another option available from Grant’s Pharmacy is Calpol’s Vapour Plug – this is a refillable device for babies aged 3 months plus.  It releases soothing lavender and camomile vapours that comfort your child through the night and help with clear & easy breathing.Its soft, blue nightlight provides a gently reassuring glow, as well as guiding you in the room so you can avoid disturbing your child while they rest.  It is safe to use with other Calpol products.Available from Grant’s Pharmacy

I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Leonie (that’s me!), Janet or any Pharmacist in Grant’s Pharmacy can tell you more about the medicines used to treat coughs and colds.  Every Grant’s Pharmacy has a private consultation room where you can discuss any personal ailments discreetly and without embarrassment.  Grants Pharmacy, Wexford, Enniscorthy, Gorey and Arklow.  Pop in and experience a fast, friendly and informed service. We will be happy to advise you on your best course of treatment.  Grant’s Pharmacy is located in Wexford town, in Enniscorthy town, in Arklow town – all beside Pettitts and in Gorey town opposite the GPO.  Find us on Facebook.  053-9123068