All you need to know about cough in children, explained by pediatricians

When the child is sick, it is impossible for parents not to worry. Adults turn on all the alarms when they see symptoms that the health of the little ones does not go well at all. One of the most striking indications is the cough, which can be very violent and make think that the child is going through something serious.

What is the reason for cough of the kids? What has caused this situation? To this and other questions answered the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics, AEPap, in its decalogue on this subject. A help for parents to know what is happening and how to act.

Decalogue about cough

This is all that AEPap tells parents about coughing.


- Cough is a defense mechanism of the respiratory system. It is designed to eliminate secretions and foreign bodies to keep the airway clean and open.

- The most frequent cause of acute cough are infections of the upper respiratory tract (colds). The origin of them is in hundreds of different viruses. They are usually solved without needing medication in one or two weeks.

- Acute cough should not be treated with cough suppressants, mucolytics, expectorants, antihistamines or nasal decongestants, especially in children under six years of age. It has not been shown that these drugs are effective for the treatment of this symptom in children and the risks outweigh the possible benefits. If they are used, they should always be under medical supervision.


- If there was no cough, the child would have more mucus retention, less oxygenation and more obstruction of the airway. There would also be more risk of otitis and pneumonia.

- Antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of colds and are contraindicated for cough.

- It is very important that the child with catarrh is well hydrated. You have to give fluids often.

- It is also recommended to do nasal washes and humidify the environment.

- Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke. The snuff is the enemy number 1 and should take advantage of the cough of the child so that the biggest smokers leave this habit

- Simple measures such as hand washing reduce the risk of infection.

- Parents should monitor the evolution of cough and consult with the pediatrician if the following problems are detected:

Difficulty breathing. When taking air, the ribs are marked and the sternum sinks, whistles are heard when the child breathes, oxygenation is very fast, agitated, etc.


Fever that lasts more than three days.

Earache or oozing.

Cough and runny nose for more than 10-15 days.

Damián Montero

Video: Evaluation of Chronic Cough in Children - Mindy Ross MD | UCLAMDCHAT Webinars


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