Parent's Guide: Understanding and Treating Coughs in Children

Understanding the type of cough in children allows parents to better address their needs. Adequate hydration, the use of humidifiers, maintaining a clean environment, and considering the 'ABC Diet for Kids' can effectively help manage coughs in children."

Harleen Kaur
Oct 31, 2023 13:08 IST
New Update
Sporadic Cough (Barking Cough):

Parent's Guide: Understanding and Treating Coughs in Children

Coughs are among the most common symptoms of childhood illness. While a cough may sound alarming, it's usually not a sign of a severe condition. In fact, coughing is a vital reflex that safeguards the airways in your child's throat and chest. Nevertheless, recognizing the specific type of cough your child has is crucial for ensuring proper treatment. In this article, we'll explore different types of coughs in children, their potential causes, and how parents can better understand and address them.


Types of Coughs in Children

Post-Nasal Cough:

  • When your child experiences a runny nose and a cough that mainly occurs when lying down, it's often linked to post-nasal drip.
  • This type of cough typically resolves itself as the underlying cause, such as nasal congestion and post-nasal drip, improves.
  • To reduce post-nasal coughs, maintaining a clean and irritant-free home environment is essential.

Sporadic Cough (Barking Cough):

  • Sporadic coughs are recognizable by their dog barking-like sounds and their tendency to affect the upper chest.
  • These coughs often improve during the day but may return at night.
  • They can result from various factors, including minor irritants or allergies.
  • Be mindful of your child's exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.

Whooping Cough:

  • Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a respiratory infection caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria.
  • It mainly affects infants younger than six months who aren't yet fully protected by immunizations.
  • Highly contagious, whooping cough spreads through tiny droplets from an infected person's nose or mouth.
  • Recognizing the symptoms is vital as it usually starts with cold-like symptoms for 1 to 2 weeks, followed by severe coughing for up to 3 months.

Chesty Wheezy Cough:

  • This cough may worsen at night or persist throughout the day.
  • While a chesty, wheezy cough can be associated with various respiratory conditions, it doesn't necessarily indicate pneumonia.
  • If your child experiences difficulty breathing during a coughing episode, consult a healthcare professional promptly.

Allergic Cough/Daytime Cough:

  • Many childhood coughs are allergic, triggered by allergens like pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.
  • Identifying and addressing these allergies, such as through allergen avoidance or medical management, can help alleviate the cough.

Viral Cough:

  • High fever accompanying a child's cough often points to a viral infection.
  • Effective management involves treating the fever and providing supportive care like proper hydration and rest.

Cough With Wheezing:

  • If your child wheezes (whistling sound when exhaling), it may indicate swollen lower airways.
  • This can be related to asthma or viral infections like bronchiolitis.
  • Seek medical attention if you notice wheezing, especially if it's accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

Phlegmy Cough:

  • Common colds often result in this type of cough in children, accompanied by mucus, a runny nose, sore throat, and watery eyes.
  • Since colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics won't help.
  • Persistent green nasal discharge and fever may indicate a bacterial sinus infection, which should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Treatment and Home Care

  • Cough medicines should be used cautiously and only after consulting a healthcare professional. These medications don't treat the underlying cause of the cough.
  • If your child is happy, playful, and is not bothered by the cough, don't worry.
  • Keep your child's home environment free of irritants that can trigger coughing spells, such as smoke and strong odours.
  • Ensure your child stays well-hydrated and maintains a balanced diet to support recovery.
  • Consider the "ABC Diet for Kids" during coughing seasons: A for Apple, B for Beetroot and Blueberries, and C for Cabbage and Curcumin (Turmeric). These superfoods can help reduce inflammation and support your child's recovery.

When to see a doctor :

when to be concerned about a cough
Image credits// Dayton Children's
  • If your child has a fever 
  • Difficulty breathing – breathing harder or faster, wheezing
  • Vomiting or refusing/ unable to drink fluids
  • Cough lasting longer than 1 month

By recognizing the specific type of cough your child has, you can better address their needs and provide appropriate care. Parents can play an active role in their child's well-being by maintaining a clean environment and making dietary adjustments to help reduce cough symptoms.

Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential, as coughs can be indicative of common respiratory ailments or more serious conditions that require prompt attention.


#home remedies #parentingtips #cough in babies #treatment for coughs #home care tips