- ABOUT DR. HABIBI
- RESPIRATORY CONDITIONS
- SLEEP DISORDERS
- PATIENT INFO
- CONTACT US
The two main types of cough are dry, tickly coughs and chesty coughs that may bring up phlegm or mucus. Knowing what kind of cough your child has can help if you need to seek advice on treatment from a pharmacist or your doctor. Some coughs can also produce very distinctive sounds. Listen out for barking coughs that come with a harsh sound as your child breathes in, or for coughing fits that are followed by a whooping noise as your child breathes in. These could be caused by croup or whooping cough. You should also look out for any other symptoms that might be associated with a cough, such as flu-like symptoms or a rash.
Coughs can last longer than colds or the flu, but they should usually clear up in about three weeks. Sometimes a cough can seem to last longer if your child keeps catching new infections or if coughing has become a habit that keeps irritating the lungs. In some cases, a persistent cough can be a sign of something more serious, so it needs to be checked by a doctor.
Coughing is a very common symptom that can be caused by a wide range of different conditions. The most likely cause for a cough is a respiratory tract infection, cold or influenza. Sometimes the cough can be a sign of a more serious chest infection, such as pneumonia. The infection causes mucus to build up in your child's lungs, which makes him or her cough to get rid of it. Nose and throat infections can also produce mucus, which trickles down the throat and causes coughing. Coughing can also be a response to something in the environment, such as an irritant like cigarette smoke, or an allergen like pollen.
Some types of coughs are more likely to occur in children than in adults. Bronchiolitis is a mild respiratory infection that causes coughing. Croup usually occurs between the ages of six months and three years. It causes a barking cough and a harsh sound known as stridor that happens when your child breathes in. Whooping cough, is an intense bout of coughing that causes a whooping noise as your child breathes in, and can be severe enough to cause vomiting after a bout of coughing.
Most of coughs in children will go away within a few weeks even without specific treatment. If coughing is due to a bacterial chest infection, then antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor. A cough that doesn't go away could be caused by an allergy, asthma, or cystic fibrosis, so it’s important to seek help.
If your child has a cough, but is eating, drinking and breathing normally, you probably don't need to see a doctor. Coughs can sound worse than they are, be troublesome at night, particularly when bringing up mucus, but they aren't usually a sign of anything serious. However, if the cough is very severe, there is wheezing or breathlessness, your child has a rash or a high fever, or the cough doesn't go away, you should seek medical advice. It is also a good idea to see a doctor if your child keeps getting coughs and infections or if they appear to be triggered by exercise or particular allergens.
Finding out what is causing a cough is the first step to treating it. Sometimes a diagnosis can be given simply on the basis of the symptoms and a physical examination. However, further tests may be needed in some cases. For example, a mucus sample may need to be tested in the lab to identify a specific infection or lung function tests may be required to check for asthma.
Many coughs can be treated at home in the same way as the flu. Painkillers, fluids, and plenty of rest and reassurance can work wonders. Children over the age of one can be given a warm drink of lemon and honey to soothe their throats. Over the counter cough medicines shouldn't be given to children under the age of six, and they should only be given to older children with the advice of your pharmacist or doctor.
Your doctor may also be able to provide additional treatment, depending on the cause of the cough. A bacterial chest infection can be treated with antibiotics. Severe coughs and infections may need to be treated in hospital, particularly if there are any complications. Conditions such as allergies and asthma can also require additional care so ask to see a specialist.