Does a Vaporizer Help a Child With Coughing?


A vaporizer can be beneficial to have on hand when your child is battling a cough. A vaporizer may help relieve a child's cough, but you must be sure to use it properly in order to get the best results.

What is a Vaporizer?

A vaporizer heats water to emit steam into the air. The steam helps calm a child's cough by adding moisture to the air. Eucalyptus and menthol liquids sold in most pharmacies and drug stores can be added either directly to the liquid inside the unit or can be placed in a small cap-sized area on the top of the vaporizing unit. You will need to check your unit for specific instructions on this process. Adding these particular additives helps open air passages and soothe an irritated throat.

Be sure to keep the unit a safe distance from your child. If she is in bed, keep the unit at least five feet away from her bedside, and on a hard, flat surface. This distance is not only safe because it keeps your child from being able to touch the vaporizer and potentially knock it over, but also because it will allow the vapors to gradually fill your child's room. Having your closer to the unit will not make it work faster.

Be sure to check the instructions for your vaporizer. Some models require you to add salt to the water. Adding too much or too little salt to the water can make the water too hot, or not hot enough to emit effective steam. Pediatricians recommend using a cool mist vaporizer with small children to help eliminate the possibility of them receiving a burn if they accidentally knock the unit over.

Check the care instructions for your vaporizing unit. Regular cleaning is required to help eliminate the growth of bacteria inside the unit. Typically, vaporizing units are easy to clean and care for, and there are no filters to replace or clean, as with many humidifier units.

How Can a Vaporizer Help?

The primary reason many pediatricians recommend using a vaporizer in a child's room for a cough is because vaporizers emit less bacteria into the air than a humidifier. This is especially important when a child is already sick, as adding additional bacteria to the room can create even more illness for your child.

A vaporizer emits moisture into the air and helps alleviate an irritated throat, and can also help with chest congestion. Turning a vaporizer on can help break up this chest congestion and also soothe the throat and help eliminate the cough. Keep in mind that results are not instantaneous. You should have your child in the room with the vaporizer running for at least 15 minutes before you begin to see significant results. During those 15 minutes, you can help your child by rubbing Vicks or a similar brand's chest rub (usually composed of eucalyptus ingredients) on your child's chest and upper back (do not apply this to his face, as it may irritate their skin). This will help open up their airways, and help alleviate the cough as well. If your child is old enough, have your child lean over a bucket of warm water with a towel over her head and breathe in the warm air. This method will only work for about 10-15 minutes--once the water cools down, it is no longer effective.

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