Tag Archives: cough

Cough-Your Child’s Friend or Foe? (Pedcast)


I don’t know about you, but in Charlotte, the kiddies have been doing a lot of coughing this winter. Even though it has been unseasonably warm, those viruses have managed to get into the noses and lungs of babies with amazing ease, generating a lot of coughing and sleepless nights. I talk to parents every day in my office, who seem to be frantic to stop their children’s cough. Since when did cough become enemy number one for children? Yes, it’s true, a cough makes your kids uncomfortable and means that they are sick, but, in reality, his or her cough is weapon number one preventing them from contracting pneumonia.  So in today’s pedcast, I want to change your thinking about cough and have you think of this symptom as a vital protective reflex rather than a nuisance symptom keeping your child awake at night and making them miserable. Continue reading

Clean Hands, Dirty Elbows…Healthy Kids (Article)

Flu season isn’t quite over yet, which is why it is more important than ever to prevent the spread of germs.  Teaching children the importance of washing their hands and covering their coughs correctly can protect against a myriad of illnesses ranging from the common cold to whooping cough to the flu.

Experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend these 4 steps to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Have your children cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and then put used tissues in the trash can.
  • If your child doesn’t have a tissue, have her cover her cough with the inside of her elbow (not her hands, as so many of us were taught by our parents!)
  • Have your children wash their hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds at each washing.
  • Teach your children to use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.

Not only is the common cold responsible for 22 million missed school days per year, but once your child is sick, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the family follows suit.  Washing your hands and covering your coughs are two important ways to stop the spread of germs. Remember, germs need us to move them around: they can’t walk or crawl on their own.

Habits are hard to break, so why not set good habits for both you and your children from the very beginning?  Teach your children the correct way to cough and sneeze, and make sure you do it the correct way as well.  Although they might not always listen the first time you tell them, repetition is a great teacher.  Washing your hands together is a great way to teach them how important the habit is.

Though it may not seem like much, these two tactics (that take only seconds to teach and practice) can help keep your children, your household, and your community healthy.  Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com. We would love to hear from you.  Until next time.

Abbie Doelger- research intern, Davidson College

Paul Smolen- Doc Smo





From the desk of Doc Smo: Honey-A great cough medicine (Article)

Have you ever wondered why cough medicines always seem to come as syrups?  Maybe the reason is that the cough suppressive effect may come from the sticky syrup and not from the active ingredients!  I have found that the stickier the cough syrup the better.  Perhaps honey is such an effective cough medicine because it sticks to the back of children’s throats and keeps their brains from sensing the little drips and drabs of secretions that stimulate coughs.  In fact, a recent study from Israel found that honey, given thirty minutes before bedtime in children older than a year, proved to be very effective at relieving coughs and improving sleep!

As many of you know, the Federal Drug Administration has advised against using cough or cold medicines in children less than four years of age since these medicines have not been tested for safety or effectiveness in very young children.  Additionally, many children have suffered injury and even death as a result of using cough and cold medicines. For more information on this topic and other homeopathic ways of dealing with respiratory illness in your children, be sure to check out these other DocSmo posts:




Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.

Smo Notes:

Cohen, H.A. Pediatrics 2012;30:1-7

Spicy Feet, The Latest Recommendations Regarding Cough and Cold Medicines for Young Children from FDA and Moms (Pedcast)

In this pedcast, Doc Smo explores the effectiveness and safety of cold medicines for young children–from what the FDA recommends to Grandma’s home remedies. Learn some practical advice for dealing with this year’s cold season.


Cough is one of the most common symptoms that children have.

Disturbs sleep and is very unpleasant for everyone.

Parents hate to see kids cough.

Anyone with young children knows. children get sick a lot, on average 7-12/yr.  Usually at least monthly.

Treatment of cough and colds is a big deal in my world and anyone with young children.

Today, we discuss recent developments with regards to cough and cold medicines.


Recently, had a 3 year old in the office with croup, a coughing illness whose mom happened to be Indian.  From India that is.

We were talking about the treatment of cough and I started to tell her about the FDA statement on the use of cough and cold medicines in children under 4 years of age.


If you don’t know, Jan 2008 the FDA and the manufacturers agreed to alter labels of these meds.  The change says, not to use in children under 4 years old. Not removed from the market!


FDA’s concern was that many of these medications had no efficacy data to prove effectiveness AND reports of hundreds of children a year in emergency departments  with adverse affects.  There have even been some deaths from these medicines.


The MANUFACTURERS claim they are safe when used properly, and we don’t need efficacy data since they have been around sooooo long.


As a consequence of all this discussion, people like me, pediatricians, are now encouraged not to recommend cough suppressants and cold meds for young children.


So we are left with grandma treatments.  Nothing against grandma.  I think she was a genius.  How did she figure out that whole cod liver oil thing???


Back to my patient, I was telling her about her options with regard to cough relief in a three year old since older treatments are off the table (OTC, alcohol, codeine cough syrups)

Humidifier-lets loosen those secretions.  Breathing warm steamy vapor in the bathroom can also help.

Honey or other syrup to coat throat.

Propping semi-erect. Lets let gravity help.

Vicks Vapor rub (Commercial Brand of Menthol Rub)…  I started to tell her about the latest rage, Vicks on the soles of the feet covered with socks.  She interrupted and said.   “Oh the spicy feet, I know, I know!”


Spicy feet. Wow. I love it!  The essence of western medicine summarized in just 2 words.. And invented in NC! Spicy feet!

You’ve heard the Vicks Vapor rub on the feet, haven‘t you? .   Urban legend or an effective therapy. I don’t know. Many parents swear by it.  It does fit into my treatment paradigm, however which is, “ Do no harm!”


Vicks ok for throat, chest and feet, but not under the nose… rarely, this can cause problems.


Bottom line:

Cough is a good thing, protective reflex keep airways open.  Really don’t want to stop it.

Cough can be a sign of real trouble.

Cough with high fever, or chest pain, or sob,  can mean pneumonia.

Cough till vomiting can mean whooping cough.

Cough with wheeze can mean asthma, foreign body, or other bronchial problems.

Cough with a barky quality usually means croup, which can be serious at times.


In young children, Suppressing coughs in my opinion is only for sleep and only with mild measures such as humidifiers, honey, and maybe, just maybe, spicy feet!



Thanks for joining me for another pedcast.

Hopefully you got some information and a smile.

Check out DocSmo.com for references used in this pedcast as well as other pedcasts.

Feel free to leave comments.

This is DocSmo, Dr Paul Smolen from beautiful studio 1e wishing you and your children just the right application of herb so that their cough won’t disturb.


Until next time.

Smo Notes:

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