What your child’s cough is telling you



Toddlers most often cough when the lining of their windpipe becomes irritated, which commonly happens when they are sick and fighting off an illness. While coughing can sometimes be helpful—removing extra mucus and allowing air to flow more easily through the windpipe into the lungs—it can also be disruptive to sleep and downright miserable for everyone.

Here are the most common types of toddler coughs, their causes, and the best ways to diagnose and treat them to get your little one feeling better.

Types of Toddler Coughs

The most common reasons for toddler coughs are respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Coughing associated with a viral or bacterial infection often comes with other tell-tale symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, and fever. Asthma-related coughs commonly come with some wheezing and are often worst at night. Coughing associated with environmental or seasonal allergies, on the other hand, will develop when your child is exposed to the substance they’re allergic to such as pet dander or pollen.

If your child is getting over an illness, then their cough will probably be the last symptom to get better. It’s not uncommon for a dry, hacking cough to linger for as long as three weeks after a cold (although you should see some gradual improvement between 10 and 14 days) in toddlers and young children.

There are four distinct types of coughs: dry, wet, croup, and whooping. It is important to know what type of cough your child has and what it might mean.

1. Dry cough

A dry cough sounds like a rough, hacking cough, and does not contain mucus.

An infection of the upper respiratory tract such as a cold or influenza can cause a dry, hacking cough. Your toddler’s cough may get worse at night with a cold or flu, and warm, dry rooms may also worsen the symptoms. A dry cough is also one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 (though a wet cough or even a croup-like cough is also possible).

However, a dry cough may also be an early sign of an infection of the lower respiratory tract, like bronchitis, which is inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. Other causes of dry coughs in toddlers include asthma, which first appears as dry coughing at night and often worsens with exposure to cigarette smoke or other similar irritants.

A dry cough isn’t always due to an illness, sometimes it is a response to the environment from things like dust, tobacco smoke, pollen, or pollutants. According to the American Lung Association, exposure to environmental irritants can produce wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

2. Wet cough

A wet cough includes phlegm or mucus that may be clear, yellow, or green; these coughs sound wet.

If your toddler has a wet cough (a cough accompanied by mucus or the sound of mucus), it’s likely caused by fluid secretions and mucus found in the lower respiratory tract which includes the windpipe and lungs.

Common causes of wet cough include respiratory infections and asthma, but allergies can also cause a wet cough. According to the University of Missouri, grass and tree pollen, mold and fungi spores, dust, and animal dander are all common allergens that can irritate the lining of the nose, triggering a post-nasal drip that causes a chronic, wet cough.

It is common for colds and influenza to initially cause a wet cough. However, as the viruses run their course, a wet cough can turn into a lingering, persistent dry cough that can last several days or weeks.

A sinus infection, also called acute sinusitis, can also lead to a wet cough. When mucus builds up in the sinus cavity, it pushes mucus and phlegm into the throat and nasal passages, leading to a wet cough. This type of cough can last up to eight weeks and can be treated with over-the-counter medicines.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that is characterized by a wet, mucusy cough. Additionally, pneumonia also causes a crackling, bubbly, or rumbling sounds while breathing.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that can present as a mild cold. But for kids under the of age 1, RSV can be serious and is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which is when the small airways in the lungs become inflamed. An RSV cough sounds wheezy, wet, and forceful. It can also make breathing difficult for the child.

3. Croup cough

Croup is a disease that causes a harsh, dry cough that can sound similar to a seal’s bark. Croup in toddlers results in a swollen upper trachea or windpipe and is usually caused by a viral infection. A child with croup may make a high-pitched sound, known as stridor when breathing in.

4. Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough has symptoms similar to the common cold, but the cough gradually becomes worse with severe fits of deep, fast coughing. It especially causes toddlers to cough at night.

Frequent coughing fits are generally a series of five to 15 staccato coughs in rapid succession. After coughing, the child will breathe deeply, sometimes making a “whooping” sound. Whooping cough can lead to breathing problems and a change in the appearance of the child’s skin (often resulting in a bluish, grayish, or purplish appearance, especially around the lips, gums, and nail beds) because of a temporary oxygen shortage.

Is Something Stuck in Their Throat?

While most coughing in toddlers is caused by respiratory infections, the sudden onset of intense coughing may be caused by something irritating or getting stuck in their throat or windpipe. Toddlers can sometimes cough and gag when eating or drinking, for example, especially when they overstuff their mouths or drink too quickly.

While some short-lived reflexive coughing and gagging can be normal and is not a medical emergency, it’s important to be able to distinguish it from true choking, which is when the airway is blocked and the child is having trouble breathing.

Symptoms of true choking include difficulty breathing, wheezing or gasping, high-pitched sounds or no sound, throat-grabbing motions, skin tugging at the chest, skin color changes (ranging from blue to purple to gray/ashen), and appearing in obvious distress. If you suspect your toddler is choking, you should immediately administer choking first aid (in children older than 1 year, that means performing the Heimlich maneuver) and call 911.

For a partially lodged object (your child can still breathe fine), you can try wiggling it free with pats on the back, then visiting the doctor if that doesn’t work. Often an X-ray will show the cause, but sometimes a child will need a bronchoscopy, in which a tube travels down the windpipe to look around and clear the airway.

Peanuts, popcorn, and bits of hard foods like raw carrots are especially prone to be aspirated, so you should not give them to children under 4 years old. Aspiration can also eventually lead to pneumonia, which would cause your child to develop a fever, be short of breath, and start to look and act sick.

While most toddler coughs resolve on their own, there are times when coughing signals a more serious problem or complications that require treatment.

If your toddler develops any of the following symptoms along with their cough, it’s time to call their pediatrician according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

If, on the other hand, your toddler is showing any of these symptoms, you should seek more immediate care:

  • They have trouble breathing or are breathing rapidly.
  • They show changes in skin color (bluish, grayish, or purplish), especially around the lips, gums, and nail beds.
  • They seem lethargic or “out of it.”
  • They experience severe chest pain.
  • They have a fever over 104°F.

As always, trust your gut. If your child looks or acts very sick or you think your child needs to be seen, seek medical care.

How to Help Your Toddler’s Cough

Is your toddler coughing at night or throughout the day? Try the following treatment options.

Keep them hydrated

Give your toddler plenty of clear, ideally unsweetened, liquids to drink. If they have a wet cough, staying hydrated can help prevent the mucus from thickening making their coughs more effective. Warm liquids or broth-based soups can also ease soreness and irritation in the throat and chest, relax the airways, and loosen mucus. If you are still nursing, offer plenty of breastfeeding sessions to keep them hydrated and comforted.

Take advantage of humidity

Let your child inhale humidified air (air that has moisture in it). Dry air can make coughs worse, and water vapor can ease your child’s coughing. This can be done in several ways:

  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom.
  • Run a warm shower in the bathroom with the door shut. When the room is filled with steam, sit in the bathroom with your child for about 10 minutes. Read or sing to them so that they will be relaxed.
  • Hang a damp towel in your child’s bedroom.

Let in cool air

For a dry cough or a croup cough, you can also try encouraging your toddler to inhale cool air. Cool air can reduce the swelling in the respiratory tract, which can help suppress the coughing. You can do this in several ways:

  • If the weather is cool or cold, go outside or open the window so that your child can inhale cool air.
  • Take your child outside for a drive with the car windows open.
  • Let your child inhale the cool air from an open refrigerator or freezer.

Limit physical activity

A toddler with a distinct dry cough should avoid exercise. Older children often notice their cough gets worse during physical activity. Encourage your toddler to rest and if possible, enjoy some downtime along some of them. Many toddlers can go about their day as normal with a cough, but encourage periodic rest and restful activities like reading together, watching a movie, or coloring.

Avoid over-the-counter cough medicines

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against over-the-counter cough medicine and cough syrup for toddlers younger than 4 years old since they might cause serious side effects. The AAP also says cough medicines aren’t very effective for those under age 6 (and aren’t approved for this group). Instead, toddlers will benefit from all-natural approaches, such as honey (if the child is older than 1) or warm liquids.

Get vaccinated

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent some infections and disease. Getting vaccinated against illnesses known to cause severe coughing is one of the best ways to prevent cough. In addition to getting your toddler vaccinated if and when they are able, it’s also important that parents, older siblings, and other family members be vaccinated to reduce the risk of passing an infection to your toddler.

Here are a few vaccines to consider:

  • Whooping cough: This highly contagious respiratory disease can be prevented by the DTaP vaccine for children and the Tdap or DTaP vaccine for adults who are often in contact with children.
  • Influenza and cold: The influenza vaccine, more commonly called the flu shot, is an annual vaccine that can prevent the spread of the flu.
  • COVID-19: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available for adults, children, and infants over the age of 6 months. This vaccine may not prevent COVID-19 infection, but it will reduce the risk of developing severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or death.
  • Pneumococcal: The pneumococcal vaccine can help prevent pneumonia, as well as meningitis and sepsis in kids under the age of 2 and older adults.

FAQs

How do I know if my toddler cough is serious?

A wet cough with a high fever (higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit) points to a more serious infection that needs medical attention. Look for increased breathing rate, too, as that can be a sign of airway trouble.

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When should my toddler see a doctor for cough?

Persistent Cough Coughs caused by colds due to viruses can last weeks, especially if a child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or airways also might cause lasting coughs. If your child still has a cough after 3 weeks, call your doctor.

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How long should a cough last in a toddler?

Children can cough several times a day or have coughing episodes lasting up to a couple of weeks if they have viral infections. However, coughing that lasts more than two to three weeks should prompt a visit to your physician.

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When should I take my 2 year old to the hospital for a cough?

A child who has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose probably has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher can sometimes be due to pneumonia, especially if a child is weak and breathing fast. In this case, call your doctor immediately.

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What does RSV cough sound like?

RSV in Infants & Toddlers

Children with RSV typically have two to four days of upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as fever and runny nose/congestion. These are then followed by lower respiratory tract symptoms, like increasing wheezing cough that sounds wet and forceful with increased work breathing.

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What are the 3 stages of whooping cough?

There are three recognized stages of the disease: catarrhal, paroxysmal, and convalescent. The incubation period for Pertussis is 7 to 10 days.

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Is RSV a wet or dry cough?

In adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs and symptoms. These may include: Congested or runny nose. Dry cough.

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How do I know if my 2 year old has pneumonia?

Like many infections, pneumonia usually produces a fever, which in turn may cause sweating, chills, flushed skin, and general discomfort. The child also may lose her appetite and seem less energetic than normal. Babies and toddlers may seem pale and limp, and cry more than usual.

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What does bronchitis cough sound like?

A bronchitis cough sounds like a rattle with a wheezing or whistling sound. As your condition progresses, you will first have a dry cough that can then progress towards coughing up white mucus.

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What’s a pneumonia cough sound like?

Rhonchi sounds have a continuous snoring, gurgling, or rattle-like quality. Rhonchi occur in the bronchi as air moves through tracheal-bronchial passages coated with mucus or respiratory secretions. This is often heard in pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, or cystic fibrosis. Rhonchi usually clear after coughing.

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What your child's cough is telling you – Children's Health

What your child’s cough is telling youThere are many reasons children develop a cough, and it can be difficult for parents to determine what is causing the cough and when to see the pediatrician. Typically, a child’s cough is nothing to worry about. Every year parents can expect their children to get several colds, especially during the fall and winter months, which can result in coughing as a side effect. But there are times when it is important to call your child’s doctor. To help parents understand the severity of their child’s cough and what it may indicate, Michael Lee, M.D., pediatrician with Children’s Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern, shares his advice: “As a general rule, if your child has a cough that is getting progressively worse and/or lasting longer than five to seven days without improvement, it’s a good idea to have them seen by a medical professional.” What’s causing my child’s cough? Here are eight common causes of a child’s cough and signs it’s time to see a pediatrician. Cold The common cold often produces a wet, productive-sounding cough with mucus or phlegm behind it. Call your pediatrician if: Your child’s voice becomes hoarse and has a barking, productive cough. If your child has a cold, specific medications are not needed. Keep your child well hydrated, have them blow their nose (suction nose for infants) and rest as needed. Your child can continue to go to school as long as there is no fever present for 24 hours without medication. Cough and cold medications are not routinely recommended for children. Allergies Seasonal allergies typically do not affect a child under the age of 2-3 years old. Symptoms of seasonal allergies include itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, cough and congestion, sneezing and sometimes a sore throat. However, allergies do not usually cause fatigue, body aches or a fever. Call your pediatrician if: Your child’s allergy symptoms persist. Your child’s doctor may recommend or prescribe allergy medications depending on your child’s age and symptoms. If your child is already taking medication for seasonal allergies and their symptoms persist, contact their pediatrician. RSV Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, is a specific virus that has similar symptoms to the common cold, but it can be a challenging and even life-threatening virus in infants or young children. Call your pediatrician if: Your child has labored breathing that is hard and fast. Difficulty breathing may not be something you hear, but something you see. You may notice your child’s chest sinking in and their ribs coming and going with each breath. If you see any of these symptoms, contact your child’s doctor immediately. Bronchiolitis The most common cause of bronchiolitis is the RSV virus, but other viruses may cause the same symptoms. Bronchiolitis is mainly seen in children 2 years old and younger and causes wheezing and difficulty breathing. Call your pediatrician if: A dry cough evolves into clicking, bubbling or rattling when your child inhales. Additionally, if your child is having labored breathing, it may be time to call your child’s doctor. Pneumonia Children will experience Pneumonia symptoms differently than adults, and the symptoms tend to be very subtle, but pneumonia is typically accompanied by a high fever. Signs will also vary with age and the cause of the pneumonia. Call your pediatrician if: your child has a frequent cough with high fever and/or rapid or difficult breathing. Asthma Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting almost one in 10…

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Remedies for Toddler Cough – WebMD

Remedies for Toddler Cough Menu As children develop, it’s not uncommon for them to experience illnesses or conditions with coughs. A cough in young children can have many causes. The vast majority are caused by viral upper respiratory infections, or common colds. If your child has a cold, their cough can linger for up to a month after the other symptoms have gone away.An acute (short-term) cough will last less than a month. It’s usually associated with a cold or allergies. This type of cough doesn’t necessarily need a trip to the doctor. It can usually be treated at home. But a chronic cough lasting longer than four weeks should be evaluated by a pediatrician. Though rarely serious, coughs can be miserable for parents and children. They may interrupt sleep and other usual routines, and cause crankiness.It’s important to remember that coughing is actually good, since it helps the body free itself from mucus that clogs up your throat or nose. However, in cases where coughing persists, some home remedies can help ease your child’s symptoms. Remedies and Treatments for Toddler CoughUnfortunately, there’s no evidence that any medication helps relieve acute cough symptoms in children. But in addition to rest and fluids, the following remedies may provide some comfort:HoneyHoney is proven to reduce coughing symptoms in children. In three trials with 568 children, honey was as effective as two over-the-counter cough medicines, dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, and more successful than a placebo.As long as your child is over the age of one, you can give them a teaspoon of honey. But children under one year old should not be given honey because it may cause infant botulism, a rare and potentially fatal illness. In some instances, botulism can cause paralysis or death.PlaceboWhile it may seem odd, placebos have been shown to be more effective than not giving any treatment for cough.In one study, children were given either agave syrup, a placebo of colored sugar water, or no treatment. The children who were given agave syrup and sugar water coughed less often and less severely. Since the syrup was no more effective than the placebo, either seemed appropriate options for reducing coughing in children. Warm FluidsToddlers with a cold should drink plenty of fluids. Warm fluids help thin mucus and soothe a sore throat. Try warm water with lemon, tea, or broth to help your toddler feel better.HumidifierHumidifiers add moisture to the air, which helps loosen your sinuses. When children have a cold, their sinuses are affected. Using a humidifier might help them cough less too.If you decide to use one, make sure it’s a cool-mist type. Steam humidifiers can cause burns.Make sure you keep the appliance clean and free of mold. A dirty humidifier can do more harm than good because it blows out bacteria.Warm S howerSitting with your child in a warm bathroom can help too — for similar reasons as humidifiers. Steam up the bathroom and give your child a warm shower or bath before bed. But never leave a small child unattended in the bathroom. Saline Nasal Spray and SuctionThough most toddlers will not like it, saline nasal spray and suction can help clear out the mucus causing their cough. A lot of toddler coughs are caused by postnasal drip from colds or allergies. They tend to be worse at night because lying down causes mucus to…

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Coughing (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth

Coughing (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth What Are Coughs? Coughs are one of the most common symptoms of childhood illness. A cough can sound awful, but usually isn’t a sign of a serious condition. In fact, coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps protect the airways in the throat and chest. What Are the Different Types of Coughs? Sometimes, though, a cough needs a doctor’s care. Understanding the different types of cough can help you know when to handle them at home and when to call your doctor. The most common types of coughs are: “barky” cough whooping cough cough with wheezing nighttime cough daytime cough cough with a fever cough with vomiting persistent cough “Barky” Cough Barky coughs are usually caused by swelling in the upper airway. Most of the time, a barky cough comes from croup, a swelling of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). Younger children have smaller airways that, if swollen, can make it hard to breathe. Kids younger than 3 are most at risk for croup because their airways are so narrow. A cough from croup can start suddenly, often in the middle of the night. Most kids with croup will also have stridor, which is a noisy, harsh breathing that happens when the child inhales (breathes in). Whooping Cough Whooping cough (pertussis) is an infection of the airways caused by the Bordetella pertussis. Kids with pertussis will have spells of back-to-back coughs without breathing in between. At the end of the coughing, they’ll take a deep breath in that makes a “whooping” sound. Other symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and a low-grade fever.Whooping cough can happen at any age, but is most severe in infants under 1 year old who did not get the pertussis vaccine, which is part of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis). It’s very contagious, so all kids should get the pertussis shot at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 4–6 years of age. Cough With Wheezing If your child makes a wheezing (whistling) sound when breathing out (exhaling), this could mean that the lower airways in the lungs are swollen. This can happen with asthma or with the viral infection bronchiolitis. Wheezing also can happen if the lower airway is blocked by a foreign object. A child who starts to cough after inhaling something such as food or a small toy should see a doctor. Nighttime Cough Lots of coughs get worse at night. When your child has a cold, the mucus from the nose and sinuses can drain down the throat and trigger a cough during sleep. This is only a problem if the cough won’t let your child sleep. Asthma also can trigger nighttime coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and irritable at night. Daytime Cough Cold air or activity can make coughs worse during the daytime. Try to make sure that nothing in your house — like air freshener, pets, or smoke (especially tobacco smoke) — is making your child cough. Cough With a Fever A child who has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose probably has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher can sometimes be due to pneumonia, especially if a child is weak and breathing fast. In this case, call your doctor immediately. Cough With Vomiting Kids often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex, making them throw up. Also, a child who has a cough with a cold or an asthma flare-up might vomit if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea. Usually, this is not cause for alarm unless the vomiting doesn’t stop. Persistent Cough Coughs caused by colds due to viruses can last weeks, especially if a child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or airways also might cause lasting coughs. If your child still has a cough after 3 weeks, call your doctor. How Are Types of Coughs Diagnosed? If you’re concerned about your child’s cough, call your doctor. Depending on the type of cough, other symptoms, and…

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Toddler Cough: Causes, Treatment, and When to Worry

Toddler Cough: Causes, Treatment, and When to Call the Doctor Toddlers most often cough when the lining of their windpipe becomes irritated, which commonly happens when they are sick and fighting off an illness. While coughing can sometimes be helpful—removing extra mucus and allowing air to flow more easily through the windpipe into the lungs—it can also be disruptive to sleep and downright miserable for everyone. Here are the most common types of toddler coughs, their causes, and the best ways to diagnose and treat them to get your little one feeling better. Types of Toddler Coughs The most common reasons for toddler coughs are respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Coughing associated with a viral or bacterial infection often comes with other tell-tale symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, and fever. Asthma-related coughs commonly come with some wheezing and are often worst at night. Coughing associated with environmental or seasonal allergies, on the other hand, will develop when your child is exposed to the substance they’re allergic to such as pet dander or pollen. If your child is getting over an illness, then their cough will probably be the last symptom to get better. It’s not uncommon for a dry, hacking cough to linger for as long as three weeks after a cold (although you should see some gradual improvement between 10 and 14 days) in toddlers and young children. There are four distinct types of coughs: dry, wet, croup, and whooping. It is important to know what type of cough your child has and what it might mean. 1. Dry cough A dry cough sounds like a rough, hacking cough, and does not contain mucus. An infection of the upper respiratory tract such as a cold or influenza can cause a dry, hacking cough. Your toddler’s cough may get worse at night with a cold or flu, and warm, dry rooms may also worsen the symptoms. A dry cough is also one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 (though a wet cough or even a croup-like cough is also possible). However, a dry cough may also be an early sign of an infection of the lower respiratory tract, like bronchitis, which is inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. Other causes of dry coughs in toddlers include asthma, which first appears as dry coughing at night and often worsens with exposure to cigarette smoke or other similar irritants. A dry cough isn’t always due to an illness, sometimes it is a response to the environment from things like dust, tobacco smoke, pollen, or pollutants. According to the American Lung Association, exposure to environmental irritants can produce wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. 2. Wet cough A wet cough includes phlegm or mucus that may be clear, yellow, or green; these coughs sound wet. If your toddler has a wet cough (a cough accompanied by mucus or the sound of mucus), it’s likely caused by fluid secretions and mucus found in the lower respiratory tract which includes the windpipe and lungs. Common causes of wet cough include respiratory infections and asthma, but allergies can also cause a wet cough. According to the University of Missouri, grass and tree pollen, mold and fungi spores, dust, and animal dander are all common allergens that can irritate the lining of the nose, triggering a post-nasal drip that causes a chronic, wet cough. It is common for colds and influenza to initially cause a wet cough. However, as the viruses run their course, a wet cough can turn into a lingering, persistent dry cough that can last several days or weeks. A sinus infection, also called acute sinusitis, can also lead to a wet cough. When mucus builds up in the sinus cavity, it pushes mucus and phlegm into the throat and nasal passages, leading to a wet cough. This type of cough can last up to eight…

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Cough – Seattle Children's

Cough Is this your child’s symptom?The sound made when the cough reflex clears the airway of irritantsMost coughs are part of a coldA coughing fit or spell is over 5 minutes of nonstop coughingCoughs can be dry (no mucus) or wet (with white, yellow or green mucus)Causes of CoughCommon Cold. Most coughs are part of a cold that includes the lower airway. The medical name is viral bronchitis. The bronchi are the lower part of the airway that go to the lungs. Bronchitis in children is always caused by a virus. This includes cold viruses, influenza and croup. Bacteria do not cause bronchitis in healthy children.Sinus Infection. The exact mechanism of the cough 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. Allergic coughs can be controlled with allergy medicines, such as Benadryl.Asthma. Asthma with wheezing is the most common cause of chronic coughs in children. In adults, it’s smoking.Cough Variant Asthma. 25% of children with asthma only cough and never wheeze. The coughing spells have the same triggers as asthma attacks.Air Pollution Cough. Fumes of any kind can irritate the airway and cause a cough. Tobacco smoke is the most common example. Others are auto exhaust, smog and paint fumes.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 objectTrouble Breathing: How to TellTrouble breathing is a reason to see a doctor right away. Respiratory distress is the medical name for trouble breathing. Here are symptoms to worry about:Struggling for each breath or shortness of breathTight breathing so that your child can barely speak or cryRibs are pulling in with each breath (called retractions)Breathing has become noisy (such as wheezes)Breathing is much faster than normalLips or face turn a blue colorPhlegm or Sputum: What’s Normal?Yellow or green phlegm is a normal part of the healing of viral bronchitis.This means the lining of the trachea (windpipe) was damaged by the virus. It’s part of the phlegm your child coughs up.Bacteria do not cause bronchitis in healthy children. Antibiotics are not helpful for the yellow or green phlegm seen with colds.The main treatment of a cough with phlegm is to drink lots of fluids. Also, if the air is dry, using a humidifier will help. Sipping warm clear fluids will also help coughing fits.Vaping RisksTalk with your child about the dangers of vaping.Vaping can cause severe lung injury. The lung damage can be permanent.Vaping can even cause death.Vaping tobacco also causes nicotine addiction.The legal age to purchase vaping products is 21 in the US.Encourage your teen to avoid vaping. If they have started, urge them to quit.Warning: never use home-made or street-purchased vaping solutions. Reason: they have caused most lung damage. When to Call for Cough Call 911 NowSevere trouble breathing (struggling for each breath, can barely speak or cry)Passed out or stopped breathingLips or face are bluish when not coughingYou think your child has a life-threatening emergency Call Doctor or Seek Care NowTrouble breathing, but not severe.Lips or face have turned bluish during coughingHarsh sound with breathing in (called stridor)Wheezing (high-pitched purring or whistling sound when breathing out)Breathing is much faster than normalCan’t take a deep breath because of chest painSevere chest painCoughed up bloodWeak immune system. Examples are: sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, organ transplant, taking oral steroids.High-risk child (such as cystic fibrosis or other chronic lung disease)Fever in baby less than 12 weeks old. Caution: do NOT give…

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When to See a Healthcare Provider for a Child's Cough

Learn When to Be Concerned About Your Child’s Cough A child’s cough can command an adult’s attention faster than many other sounds. Does a kid’s cough mean they are sick? Do they have allergies or asthma? Could it be COVID-19? Most coughs in children are minor and do not require treatment. However, there are times when you need to see a healthcare provider for a child’s cough, or even take them to the emergency room. This article explains the most common types of childhood coughs. You’ll also learn how to tell if your child’s cough means you need to make an appointment with their pediatrician or go to the ER. Verywell / JR Bee Frequent and Persistent Cough A frequent, persistent cough in kids can be caused by something fairly simple, like throat irritation from mucus. However, a child’s cough that doesn’t go away can also be a sign that they’re having breathing trouble. A kid who is coughing a lot may have asthma, a chronic condition where the airways of the lungs become inflamed and narrow. Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose the condition and recommend treatment, like an inhaler or nebulizer. If your child’s cough is frequent—more than every five minutes for more than two hours—call your pediatrician. Short and Fast (Whooping) Cough A child’s cough that has a specific sound can be a symptom of an infection. Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, causes a fast cough and a “whoop” sound when a child takes a breath. People of any age can get whooping cough, but it is most serious for children younger than 1-year-old. Infants can die from whooping cough. However, infants with pertussis do not always have a cough. Instead, they may briefly stop breathing (apnea) and their skin can turn blue (cyanosis). The best way to prevent whooping cough is to ensure your baby gets a pertussis vaccine. It is usually given as a combination vaccination called the DTaP, which includes protection against two other serious bacterial diseases: diphtheria and tetanus. The combination vaccine can be given starting at 2 months old. Adults should get a booster (Tdap)—especially if they are pregnant or have young children at home. Productive (Wet) Cough A child’s cough that’s productive or “wet” brings up fluid like mucus. When your child coughs, you’ll be able to hear the fluid moving in their airways. Usually, the fluid has drained from the head or is phlegm that’s being made in the respiratory tract. The common cold and the flu are common causes of wet coughs in kids. These illnesses are usually not serious, and your child can be cared for at home. While having a productive cough is no fun, it has an important purpose: it helps clear the lungs and prevent infection. That’s why healthcare providers don’t usually recommend trying to suppress a child’s cough unless it’s making it hard for them to rest or breathe. Is My Child’s Cough COVID-19? People with COVID-19 often have a dry (nonproductive) cough, but you can also have a wet cough from COVID. If your child has a cough and other COVID symptoms, or if they have been around someone who has COVID, they should be tested. If your child’s cough from COVID lasts longer than three weeks, call their pediatrician. If at any point your child’s cough is so bad they can’t breathe, take them to the ER. Infection Sometimes, a loud, wet cough is a warning sign that your child has an illness or condition that needs medical treatment. If your child’s cough is bringing up green or yellow mucus, and they have to sneeze or blow their nose a lot, they might have a sinus infection. You’ll want to take them…

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Colds, coughs and ear infections in children – NHS

Colds, coughs and ear infections in children Children’s coldsIt’s normal for a child to have 8 or more colds a year.This is because there are hundreds of different cold viruses and young children have no immunity to any of them as they have never had them before.They gradually build up immunity and get fewer colds.Most colds get better in 5 to 7 days but can take up to 2 weeks in small children.Here are some suggestions for how to ease the symptoms in your child: Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.Saline nose drops can help loosen dried snot and relieve a stuffy nose. Ask a pharmacist, GP or health visitor about them.If your child has a high temperature, pain or discomfort, children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen can help. Children with asthma may not be able to take ibuprofen, so check with a pharmacist, GP or health visitor first. Always follow the instructions on the packet.Encourage the whole family to wash their hands regularly to stop the cold spreading.Cough and cold remedies for childrenChildren under 6 should not have over-the-counter cough and cold remedies, including decongestants, unless advised to by a GP or pharmacist. Information: Call a pharmacy or contact them online before going in person. You can get medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them. Children’s sore throatsSore throats are often caused by viral illnesses such as colds or flu.Your child’s throat may be dry and sore for a day or 2 before a cold starts. You can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce the pain.Most sore throats get better on their own after a few days.If your child has a sore throat for more than 4 days, a high temperature and is generally unwell, see a GP.If they’re unable to swallow fluids or saliva or have any difficulty breathing, go to A&E or call 999 immediately as they’ll need urgent treatment in hospital.Find your nearest A&E department Children’s coughsChildren often cough when they have a cold because of mucus trickling down the back of the throat.If your child is feeding, drinking, eating and breathing normally and there’s no wheezing, a cough is not usually anything to worry about.Although it’s upsetting to hear your child cough, coughing helps clear away phlegm from the chest or mucus from the back of the throat.If your child is over the age of 1, they can try drinking a warm drink of lemon and honey.To make hot lemon with honey at home, you need to:squeeze half a lemon into a mug of boiled wateradd 1 to 2 teaspoons of honeydrink while still warm (do not give hot drinks to small children)If your child has had a cough that’s lasted longer than 3 weeks, see a GP.If your child’s temperature is very high, or they feel hot and shivery, they may have a chest infection. You should take them to a GP, or you can call 111.If this is caused by bacteria rather than a virus, the GP will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics will not soothe or stop the cough straight away.If a cough continues for a long time, especially if it’s worse at night or is brought on by your child running about, it could be a sign of asthma.Take them to a GP, who will be able to check if your child has asthma.If your child is finding it hard to breathe, go to A&E or call 999 immediately as they’ll need urgent treatment in hospital.Find your nearest A&E departmentFind out more about coughs CroupA child with croup has a distinctive barking cough and will make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in. They may also have a runny nose, sore throat and high temperature.Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and treated at…

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Decoding Your Baby's Cough | Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Decoding Your Baby’s Cough Should I Treat a Cough at Home or Call the Pediatrician? It’s always distressing to hear your little one cough. Still, it’s a common wintertime symptom, and it’s helpful to know that it often sounds worse than it is. Cough is one of the most important defenses against respiratory tract illness. During respiratory tract infections, mucus is secreted into the airways as part of the response to infection, and coughing helps to clear this. Different types of cough can also provide valuable clues about your child’s illness. “Babies less than 4 months old are obligate nose breathers, which means they are unable to coordinate breathing between their mouth and nose very well,” says Mona Patel, MD, a pediatrician and Vice President of Ambulatory Operations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “If they have nasal congestion, it is important to suction and relieve mucus, which will help them feed better.” In infants over 3 months of age, a stuffy and runny nose can be very common. It’s easy for little noses to become congested because there isn’t much space there, and this is why many times babies can have some trouble breathing when they are congested. There are over 200 different cold viruses, and infants less than 6 months old are still building up their immune systems to be able to fight off these infections.  A runny nose doesn’t always mean infection. Discovering that the mucus coming out of your baby’s nose is a rainbow of colors can cause a lot of nervousness, but it is usually nothing to worry about. Especially during the winter, your baby’s nose tries to protect itself when it goes out into the cold air. It creates more mucus to keep itself moist and clear of particles. In the springtime, when flowers are blooming, a runny nose can be a sign of allergies. What to do Keep nasal passages as clear as possible (congestion and postnasal drip will worsen the cough, especially during naptime or at night during sleep). Using a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom will help moisten airways to reduce the coughing caused by postnasal drip. Give your child lots of liquids such as water or juice. Warm, decaffeinated tea may also help ease the tickle that sets off the cough. But if your child refuses to drink, try a cool popsicle. Offer a spoonful of honey before bed; it will coat the throat and alleviate soreness. (Only give honey to kids older than 1 year old. In babies younger than 1 year old, honey can cause botulism, a life-threatening illness.) Children’s Tylenol or ibuprofen can keep babies comfortable if they have a fever. (Do not give your toddler cough or cold medicines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics warn they aren’t effective for young children and can put your toddler at risk for dangerous side effects.) For babies and toddlers who can’t blow their noses yet, use nasal saline drops and a bulb aspirator to suction a runny nose. This is helpful especially before feeds, so a child can breathe easier while eating. Try some of these home solutions early on, and if the cough is not improving or there are more worrisome signs, please consult with your pediatrician. When to be worried about your child: Onset of cough within the first few weeks of life Cough with fever lasting more than five days A cough lasting for eight weeks A cough getting worse by the third week Associated difficulty in breathing or labored breathing Night sweats, weight loss, coughing up blood A wet or dry, hacking cough without wheezing or fast breathing, day or night If your child’s cough and stuffy nose persist for more than 10 days without improving, see your doctor. Your little one could have acid reflux, allergies, asthma or even enlarged adenoids,…

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