Jun 2, 2017, 2:10:06 PM CDT Feb 3, 2023, 4:21:11 PM CST

Bronchitis in children: Home remedies for kids

When your child has a serious cough, bronchitis could be the reason. Learn about the types of bronchitis and home remedies treatments to help your baby or child.

Young boy wrapped in a blanket, sitting on the couch holding a stuffed animal Young boy wrapped in a blanket, sitting on the couch holding a stuffed animal

You can help your child beat bronchitis

With cold and flu season underway, it’s possible your child could come down with a case of bronchitis. And while the symptoms sometimes sound awful – wheezing and a deep, nagging cough that produces mucus – bronchitis in children is typically a mild condition. Home remedies for bronchitis in children can be very effective.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the large breathing tubes called airways or bronchi. The most common type of bronchitis in children is acute bronchitis.

How does bronchitis happen?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, with symptoms commonly appearing after a common cold. Other causes include allergies, irritants like dust or cigarette smoke, and can be associated with asthma. Bronchitis in children can come on quickly after a cold, but is usually mild typically lasting between 1-3 weeks.

What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?

Symptoms can vary, but usual symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Feeling unwell
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough

At first, cough can be dry, but eventually results in a cough that produces greenish or yellowish mucus.  Mucus further blocks the airway, making it difficult for your child to breathe. Bronchitis in children can come on quickly after a cold and can last a few weeks.

Effective home remedies for bronchitis in children.

The cough that comes with bronchitis may sound bad, but coughing is the natural way to clear the lungs. Most cases will improve on their own. You can effectively soothe the symptoms of bronchitis in children with home remedies like these:

  • Increase fluids. Increasing fluid intake can help sooth a sore throat and make the mucus in your child’s lungs easier to cough up. Try warm lemonade, soup, and warm water with lemon and honey.
  • Rest in an upright position. Plenty of rest will help your child regain his or her health. But congestion may make it difficult for him or her to sleep. Try elevating the head of the bed by placing a few pillows under the top of the mattress to help your child rest more easily.
  • Warm compresses for the chest. Bronchitis can make your child’s chest feel heavy and the bronchitis cough can hurt. Provide warm compresses to your child’s chest to make him or her feel better.
  • Add some humidity. A steamy bath or shower may help ease your child’s breathing. And a cool mist humidifier in his or her room overnight can also help.
  • Eliminate irritants. Smoking should never be done around any child. Smoke can especially irritate already sore lungs in your child and can also delay the healing process. In addition, make sure your child is not in an environment where he or she is inhaling dust, pollen or chemicals.
  • Give over-the-counter medications with care. Children over the age of 6 may need a dose of over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen for pain or fever. Follow directions carefully. Always contact your child’s doctor before giving any over-the-counter medication to a child younger than 6.

Is it bronchitis or something else?

A bronchitis cough can sometimes be a symptom of something more serious (like pneumonia). If your child has any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as quickly as possible to rule out any other condition:

  • A persistent fever over 100 degrees for a week
  • Chest pain and significant shortness of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing for longer than four weeks
  • Your child coughs up bloody mucus
  • Significant weakness that does not improve
  • If your child has asthma and gets bronchitis

Learn More

Learn more about common causes of coughs in children and about the Children's Health pulmonology programs and services.

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