Cough is the most common symptom and in all probabilities every child has had it once. Important fact which I would like to share is that COUGH is a Protective reflex. It protects the spread of infection to airways in lung. But on certain occasions it needs a doctor’s visit; especially if the child is having breathing difficulty and not able to sleep at all at night.
Different types of Cough:
Cough with barking sound:
Swelling in upper airway leads to barking cough i.e. swelling of Voice box (Larynx) or Windpipe (trachea) or whole of upper part in LTB (Croup). Croup is due to viral infection in most cases. It is sudden in onset and severe in younger kids with narrow airway. It has harsh, noisy character which occurs when child inhales.
Cough with whistling (or musical sound):
When lower airway is involved it leads to musical or whistling sound. It can be sometimes audible from a distance too. Common causes are viral infections like Bronchiolitis in young children, WALRI & Asthma. Foreign body is also important cause in kids.
Cough with Fever:
Cough associated with mild fever & running nose is mostly due to common cold. But if cough is associated with high grade fever and no running nose and breathing difficulty than Pneumonia needs to be ruled out. You should visit your child specialist soon.
Cough with vomiting:
Post tussive vomiting is very common in young children and should not be a cause a worry. As babies are not able to throw up mucus and secretions from lungs naturally by taking deep breath voluntarily, so vomiting with cough might relieve the child for some times . It occurs as cough can sometimes trigger gag reflex.
Viral infections can last for 2 weeks. Children with asthma, allergies or chronic infections or repeated viral infections can cause persistent cough but if cough persists for more than 3 weeks than doctor visit is needed.
Prevent triggers: Cold Air, perfumes, Smoke, ice creams etc can start or prolong the cough in children.
When is the right time to visit Child Specialist?
If your child is having any of the below features, you should contact your pediatrician
- Fast breathing
- Deep and effortful breathing
- Bluish color on lips, face
- High grade fever and no running nose
- Young child less than 3 months old especially with fever
- Special sound with cough. Eg Whopping cough, Stridor (noisy), musical sounds/ wheezing etc
- Blood with cough
- Child is very weak, irritable and cranky
- Poor oral intake, decrease urine output and looks dehydrated.
Expected treatment from Doctor?
Listening to the sound of cough can help doctor, besides History and clinical examinations.
Doctor should try to find the cause of cough and treat that. If it is viral infection, it will have its own course and will settle down with time only (usually around 2 weeks in children). No need of any cough syrup (medicine), unless the cough is disturbing sleep or child is coughing continuously for few minutes at a stretch and his life is disturbed significantly.
If cough medications are to be used than it is better to avoid combination drugs.
- Honey at bed time can have soothing effect and prevent cough.
- Warm milk with Haldi
- Warm saline gargles
- Steam inhalation can be given in certain cases. But in small kids , need to be very careful that they do not get burn injury with hot water. Best way is to generate steam via hot water in closed room or bathroom. And sit with your child in that room and let the child breath normally.
- Cool-mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom might help with sleep.
- Keep child well hydrate
- Avoid over the counter medications and give them only on prescription of a child specialist.
Feel free to contact MAYA CLINiC for any queries.
Dr Rahul Varma
“Healthy Kids, Happy Family”