Children's Cough

What is Your Child's Cough?

Children cough to clear their lungs of fluids (i.e. mucus) and irritants (i.e. dust). Coughing is reflexive action and usually a symptom of a mild condition, like a common cold. The sound of a cough will vary depending on the cause or the location of the infection.

There are two main types of kid's coughing:

  • A wet sounding, productive cough produces phlegm or mucus. This kind of cough clears the airways and lungs of fluids and should not be suppressed.
  • A nonproductive cough is dry sounding and does not produce any phlegm. Exposure to irritants can trigger this kind of cough.

What are the causes of Paediatric Coughing?

Children may cough for a variety of reasons.

Dr Widger at Randwick

A persistent, productive (phlegm producing) cough may be the symptom of:

  • Viral illness (i.e. common cold)
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Protracted bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Inhaled foreign object

A persistent nonproductive (dry) cough may be the symptom of:

  • Post viral cough
  • Croup
  • Whooping cough
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Habit cough
  • Non specific cough of childhood

You Child's Cough Diagnosis

Dr Widger will need to know some important information before they can diagnose the cause of the child’s cough. For example they may ask:

  • How long your child has been coughing
  • How frequently your child coughs
  • Wh ether there is a pattern to the cough
    • i.e. is it always worse at morning or during the night?
  • Whether the cough is dry or wet sounding
    • i.e. productive or nonproductive

Dr Widger will also check whether there are any other symptoms or if  your child has been exposed to irritants, such as smoke, chemicals, animal fur, or dust.

If necessary, the doctor may also order an x-ray or blood tests to check the severity or any infections. If your child is 5 years or older  lung function tests may be requested.

What are the stages of Cough?

Coughs are usually classified as either:

  • Acute (short term) - less than 2 weeks
  • Persistent (chronic or long-term) - more than 4 to 6 weeks

How can a Child's Cough Be Treated?

If the your child’s cough is caused by a mild condition (i.e. a common cold) treatment may not be necessary.

  • Cough syrups are generally not recommended and should be avoided in young children.
  • Honey can be an effective treatment for mild cough ( children > 1 year).
  • If a bacterial infection is suspected then antibiotics may be prescribed.

In all cases the best treatment for an infant's cough is to address the underlying cause. Treatment will vary depending on the infection, virus, allergy, or other condition, which is causing the cough.