In winter, many children appear to have a continuous, irritating cough. Cough has an important protective function in removing mucus but can cause a great deal of worry and disruption to family life, especially at night.
Head colds. Young children, especially those going to childcare, have 5-10 colds per year. Each one can cause a throaty cough lasting several weeks. The infections often run into each other, and the cough sometimes seems to go on forever.
Acute bronchitis. In many head colds, the virus spreads to the airways in the chest, causing acute bronchitis. The cough may be dry or loose and lasts 1 or 2 weeks, although sometimes longer.
Asthma can also cause a dry, irritating, chesty cough usually with a wheeze on breathing out. The cough is generally worse at night or with exercise.
Whooping cough has a dry, hacking cough that may occur in long coughing bouts. These may cause a red or blue face and vomiting. Sometimes there is a 'whooping' sound with breathing in. The cough can last for more than 3 months.
How is cough treated?
Cough medicines are not effective in children in many cases. They may also cause side-effects and are often not recommended. Simple remedies such as throat lozenges or a warm water, honey and lemon drink may be soothing.
Antibiotics are not normally given for colds or bronchitis as these are viral infections. Asthmatic coughs require special asthma medication. Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.