Cough

  • Cough is the sound made when the cough reflex clears the lungs
  • Cough is a normal part of a cold
  • Coughing up mucus is very important
  • It helps protect the lungs from pneumonia
  • We don’t want to fully turn off your child’s ability to cough

Causes of Cough

  • Common Cold – most coughs are part of a cold that includes the lower airway. The medical name is viral bronchitis. Bronchitis in children is always caused by a virus. Yellow or green phlegm is a normal part of the healing of viral bronchitis. Bacteria do not cause bronchitis in healthy children
  • Sinus Infection – the exact mechanism is unknown. It may be that post-nasal drip irritates the lower throat. Or pressure within the sinus may trigger the cough reflex
  • Allergic Cough – some children get a cough from breathing in an allergic substance. Examples are pollens or cats
  • Asthma – asthma is the most common cause of chronic coughs in children
  • Air Pollution Cough – fumes of any kind can irritate the airway and cause a cough. Tobacco smoke is the most common example
  • Exercise Induced Cough – running will make most coughs worse. If the air is cold or polluted, coughing is even more likely
  • Serious Causes – pneumonia, bronchiolitis, whooping cough and airway foreign body (object)

Care Advice

  • Homemade Cough Medicine:
    • Age 3 months to 1 year: Give1-3 teaspoons of warm clear fluids (apple juice and lemonade) 4 times per day when coughing
    • Age 1 year and older: Use honey ½ to 1 teaspoon (2-5 ml) as needed. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. Do not use honey until 1 year old
    • Age 6 years and older: Use cough drops to coat the sore throat
  • Non-Prescription Cough Medicine:
    • Non-prescription cough medicines are not advised. It has no proven benefit for children and not approved less than 4 years old (FDA 2008)
    • If age over 4 years old, you might decide to use a cough medicine. Choose one with Dextromethorphan (DM), give every 6 to 8 hours as needed for sever cough which interfere with sleep and school
  • Use warm mist for Coughing Fits or Spells
  • Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry as dry air makes coughs worse
  • Try to get your child to drink lots of fluids
  • Avoid Tobacco Smoke – tobacco smoke makes coughs much worse

What to Expect

  • Viral bronchitis causes a cough for 2 to 3 weeks
  • Sometimes, your child will cough up lots of phlegm (mucus)
  • The mucus can normally be gray, yellow or green
  • Antibiotics are usually not helpful.

Call Your Doctor If

  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Cough lasts more than 3 weeks
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child symptoms gets
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