No, we don’t have a dog. Can you imagine the carry-on the cats would create if we brought a dog into their close-knit family?
Rather, I have a toddler who coughs and coughs. The doctor hasn’t been much help with this apart from when her cough turned into a croup cough, for which she was given prednisone syrup. For children at DD’s age, doctors are reluctant to diagnose asthma. I can say outright that cough syrups are next to useless, ditto the usual “folk remedies” like honey, Vicks Vaporub on the chest and soles of the feet, etc.
On Radio National’s Health Report on 12 May 2008, there was a report on persistent childhood coughing, defined as that which continues for four weeks or more and doesn’t have asthma-like conditions (eg getting worse with exertion). Anne Chang, who’s Professor of Child Health at the University of Queensland, examined the use of cough syrups that are basically anti-histamines. Amazingly, the efficacy of these medicines has hardly been studied in the past.
Professor Chang said: If the cough is acute [and it's not asthma], meaning that it’s less than four weeks then it’s probably going to be post viral and you wouldn’t advocate any sort of therapies except to watch and wait.What we’ve advised practitioners is just to watch and wait because the majority of them would actually just go away. We’ve done a study just looking at 108 kids and in kids with a dry cough, and it’s chronic, something like 20% of them actually just resolve spontaneously. [...] What is advocated is that every child with a chronic cough should have as a minimum a chest X-ray and if they are old enough to have a spirometry as well. [...] The treatment that we would advocate is simple stuff like rubbing Vicks on their chest and using honey and lemon drinks which probably soothes and changes your receptors: so just non specific treatment as opposed to medication.
All very sensible stuff and most reassuring, though I will keep a close eye on DD all the same. I should also invest in a pair of earplugs so I can get some sleep from 5 am when DD starts up the coughing every morning.