Cough In Children
Children cough for a variety of reasons. It's one of the most common reasons to visit a doctor's office.
The appropriate treatment for a child with a cough largely depends on the cause but may include home remedies such as fluids, honey, saline, or nasal suction; over the counter medicines (though these should not be used in children under 4 years of age without discussing it with a healthcare professional, or prescription medication).
Common causes of cough in children
- Viruses: By far the most common cause of cough in children is mucous draining backward down the throat from an upper respiratory virus. Viruses can also cause lower airway infections (pneumonia).
- Bacteria: Bacterial causes of cough, particularly sinus infections and pneumonia, are uncommon in preschool-age children. Antibiotics are typically needed for bacterial causes of cough.
- Allergies: Seasonal allergy symptoms can definitely cause cough. Seasonal allergies are less common in children before about age 2-3yo as it takes a couple of seasons of exposure typically to develop allergies.
- Asthma: Asthma is a condition marked by inflammation of the airways in the lungs, increased production of mucous in the lungs, and spasm (narrowing) of the airways. It is more common in children with a family or personal history of asthma, allergies, and/or eczema. Asthma is usually treated with a combination of inhaled medicines.
Signs your child needs to see a medical professional
- Cough for more than 2-3 weeks and well-appearing
- Any noisy, heavy, fast, or labored breathing
- Your child looks unwell or has low energy
- Fever for more than 48 hours (on and off) with a cough
- Noisy breath in after a coughing fit (may indicate whooping cough)
- Any time you're worried