Children's Cough: Causes and Treatments
A child's little body can make a big sound when wracked with cough. To help your child cope with a cough, know the common causes and treatments you can try at home.
Children and Cough: Common Causes and Treatments
A cough is usually a sign your child's body is trying to rid itself of an irritant, from mucus to a foreign object. Common causes of cough include:
- Infection. Colds, flu, and croup can all lead to a lingering cough for kids. Colds tend to cause a mild to moderate hacking cough; the flu a sometimes severe, dry cough; while croup has a "barking" cough with noisy breathing.
Medication can't cure colds or flu, but hard candies or cough drops can help relieve a sore throat caused by coughing. Because of choking hazards, only give hard candies or cough drops to children over age 4. Moist air can help children cope with croup; try a warm, steamy bathroom, or cool morning air. For lingering coughs due to asthma, your child may need to take steroids or other medications prescribed by the doctor.
- Acid refluxsymptoms in children may include coughing, frequent vomiting/spitting up, a bad taste in the mouth, and heartburn. Treatment for reflux depends on a child's age, health, and other issues. Try these three tips: Remove trigger foods from their diet (often chocolate, peppermint, and fatty foods). Eat at least two hours before bedtime. And eat smaller meals. See your doctor if you are concerned about your child's acid reflux.
- Asthma can be tough to diagnose because symptoms vary from child to child. But a wheezing cough, which may get worse at night, is one of many asthma symptoms. Treatment for asthma depends on what's causing it, and may include avoiding triggers like pollution, smoke, or perfumes. See your doctor if you think your child has asthma symptoms.
- Allergies/Sinusitis can cause a lingering cough, as well as an itchy throat, runny nose, sore throat, or rash. Talk to your child's doctor about allergy tests to find out which allergens cause the problem, and ask for advice on how to avoid that allergen. Allergens can include food, pollen, dander, and dust. Your doctor may also recommend allergy medication or allergy shots.
- Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is characterized by back-to-back coughs, followed by an inhale that has a "whooping" sound. Other symptoms may include runny nose, sneezing, and low fever. Whooping cough is contagious, but easy to prevent with a vaccine. Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics.
- Other reasons children cough: A child may also cough out of habit after having been sick with a cough; after inhaling a foreign body like food or a small toy; or after exposure to irritants like pollution from cigarettes or fireplace smoke.