When Should I Worry About My Child’s Cough? A cough is a common symptom with the common cold and even the flu. However, if your child has a cough, you may be wondering when you should begin to be concerned. One place to start is understanding what do different coughs mean, as some indicate the presence of a virus, some indicate an irritation, and others may indicate a more serious, chronic issue. Once you know what a cough means and how to relieve it, you will more than likely have fewer worries about it.
Dry vs. Wet Cough
The most common types of coughs are dry and wet ones. Dry coughs do not produce mucus, while wet ones do. Both can be caused by respiratory infections. However, a dry cough typically indicates an upper respiratory infection, such as the cold or flu, and a wet cough often begins in the lower respiratory tract. A dry cough is often worse at night, and although the flu and cold are common causes, a hacking cough may also be an early sign of pneumonia or bronchitis. A dry cough also occurs when the child is exposed to irritants like smoke or dust.
Common causes of a wet cough include infections like the flu and cold. However, if it stays on for weeks, it may indicate asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia or cystic fibrosis.
Other Types of Coughs
Other types of coughs that are more common in children include croup and whooping cough. Croup is generally caused by a viral infection, and it sounds like a dry, harsh, barking cough. Whooping cough consists of fits of deep, rapid coughing followed by a whooping sound when the child breathes in deeply.
How to Relieve a Cough
As a parent, you want your child to feel better, and you want ways to relieve coughs. Although there are over-the-counter remedies for cough control, these come with side effects, and some of them are not meant for children. Most coughs can be relieved with home care, such as:
- Steam from a bath or humidifier
- Clear, warm liquids such as tea and broth
- Salt and water gargle
- Honey and lemon mixed with water or tea
- Pineapple juice
- Aromatherapy using peppermint
If these home remedies do not do the trick, there are natural, homeopathic cough control remedies that help expel the body of the infection and do not have nasty side effects.
When to Seek Medical Help
If homeopathic cold remedies and other treatments do not relieve the cough at all, this may warrant a trip to the doctor. Some definite signs that indicate you should seek medical care include:
- The cough continues to worsen, or it lasts for at least three weeks
- The child has trouble breathing
- There is a fever present, especially if it is over 100 degrees for 72 hours or more
- The child’s face turns red while coughing
- The child is also vomiting
- The child is lethargic
A cough is the body’s way of expelling bad things like viruses and irritants, and it is generally a good thing. However, there are signs that indicate there may be a more serious problem, and the child should be checked by a healthcare professional.
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