Coughs are very common in children. They are your body’s way of clearing the airway in the throat and chest. Most often, coughs are part of a minor viral illnesses and do not need a visit with a doctor. However, sometimes there can be more serious types of coughs that need to be seen by a doctor such as:

  • “Barking” coughs: usually a sign of an infection called croup. Sometimes this can also be associated with noisy and difficulty breathing.
  • “Whooping” cough: refers to the whooping noise a child makes after a series of coughs. It is usually caused by the bacterial infection pertussis, especially in children without full vaccination. In infants pertussis can be very serious
  • Cough with wheezing: can be a sign of asthma, where it is hard for your child to move air through the airways in their lung.
  • Persistent cough: coughs from colds can last up to 3 weeks. If your child has a cough that has been lasting longer than that, they should be seen by a doctor.

For the coughs caused by a cold, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using cough medicines that contain codeine or dextromethorphan as they can have dangerous side effects. Humidifiers and honey can sometimes help reduce the urge to cough. Cool beverages can help soothe a throat that is sore from coughing.

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