What you need to know about Cough treatments


A cough can sound awful, but it is rarely a sign of serious illness.


Coughing is an important reflex which helps to clear mucus from the airways. It is a common symptom in children, especially when they are under 5 years of age.

Many children get a cough when they have a cold and will continue coughing for three weeks or more. The cough will normally get better on its own, given rest and time.

Causes of cough in children

Some of the common or serious causes of cough in children include: 

Young children can have between 6 to 12 of these a year. If they are at daycare, this can be more.


A wet, chesty cough may be due to a chest infection. If it lasts more than two weeks you need to see a doctor as this may be due to underlying chest problems and your child should see a doctor.

Bronchiolitis is a common chest infection in children under 6 months of age. 

An asthma-related cough is usually dry and occurs at night, with sport or in the early morning.

There will usually be other symptoms such as wheeze, allergy (eczema or hayfever), or a history of asthma and allergy in the family. 

If a child has a chronic cough, one that lasts more than four weeks, they should see a doctor. One of the serious conditions to be considered is bronchiectasis and the longer a wet persistent cough is left, the more risk of scarring and permanent damage to the lungs. 

Second-hand cigarette smoke is another common cause of cough in children even when they are well.

Make sure your child’s environment is smoke-free. Ask all visitors and whanau to smoke outside and keep your car smoke-free too. 

This can start like a cold or flu, but the cough persists and gets worse with coughing spasms which can last weeks. 

This can also start like a cold or flu and after a day or two can lead to a barking cough and raspy breathing.

Looking after a cough with natural remedies


  • Encourage rest and give lots to drink.

  • Honey can act to soothe the throat and is suitable for children over the age of one year.

  • Vapour rubs can be applied to the chest and back. 

  • Ask your pharmacist for advice on cough mixtures which are safe to use for your child

Productive cough should be not suppressed; instead, mucus-dissolving agents are recommended.


Prospan contains is the herbal medicine derived from ivy leaves which acts as an expectorant and has been shown to effectively relieve chesty cough symptoms in children over 2 years old in more than 90% of cases.

Where can i get more information?


For starters, it’s always a good idea to speak to your local pharmacist or your GP.


For more information on coughs, try: