Imagine your kindergartener comes down with a cough, perhaps accompanied by other cold-like symptoms like fever or congestion. Most of the symptoms resolve on their own, yet the cough persists for weeks on end. Despite the use of cough suppressants and other over-the-counter medications, the cough continues day and night – a condition known as chronic cough. Doctors define chronic cough as a cough that persists for at least 4 to 8 weeks. Chronic cough is not a disease, but rather a secondary symptom of an underlying condition The key to treating a child’s chronic cough is identifying the underlying problem such as acid reflux that may be causing the problem.
Did you know…
that a chronic cough can lead to many other problems in a child? Kids may have trouble sleeping, resulting in exhaustion and difficulty paying attention in school. Some children may even experience vomiting or dizziness associated with a persistent or violent cough, and in rare cases – fractured ribs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my child needs treatment for a chronic cough?
Your child may need treatment for chronic cough if he or she has an unrelenting cough that has persisted for more than one to two months. A chronic cough may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms, such as wheezing, hoarseness or heartburn. Bring your child to a doctor immediately if he or she is coughing up blood or experiencing sleep interruptions caused by a cough.
How will my child’s doctor diagnose chronic cough?
Your child’s doctor will ask many questions about his or her cough, including when it began and how often it occurs. A pediatric pulmonologist will also want to know about your child’s exposure to second-hand smoke and his or her travel history. The doctor may also order diagnostic testing, such as a chest x-ray, CT scan and spirometry test.
What types of treatments are available for a child with chronic cough ?
Treatment for chronic cough varies widely depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Some of the most common causes include gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma and upper respiratory infections. By treating the underlying condition – often with prescription medications – most chronic coughs will eventually clear up on their own.