Coughing is a reflex that forces air and secretions from the lungs, thus vital in keeping the airways clear. An acute cough that children most often acquire when they have a cold typically lasts for 2-3 weeks. Chronic cough typically lasts longer and can be triggered by other factors including allergies, asthma and croup. The treatment for excessive coughing among children usually depends on the cause.
Coughing due to croup
Croup involves swelling around the vocal cords and typically caused by a virus. The cough linked with croup is usually a bark-like cough. Children between 3-5 years old have a higher risk for croup since their airways are small and the windpipes are narrow. Croup is typically worse at night and often lasts for a week. This condition is often managed at home but serious cases would require hospitalization.
Once a child acquires a cold, it is common to be accompanied by coughing as well. Forceful coughing can be triggered at night time since the sinuses drain down the throat while the child is asleep. During daytime, coughing is triggered by irritants in the environment such as smoke or pet dander.
If the child is overactive, this can cause excessive coughing episodes. At times, the child can cough so hard that he/she will vomit. This is not necessarily a cause for concern unless the vomiting persists.
Whooping cough or pertussis is a bacterial infection involving the airways. It is extremely contagious and most severe among infants younger than 1 year old. Whooping cough occurs once the child has uncontrollable coughing without breathing in between the coughs. The deep breath taken at the end of an episode produces a “whoop-like” sound
The child might experience choking spells or cough that is excessive that the child might vomit. In addition, pertussis is less common at the present due to the vaccines available.
When to seek care
Excessive coughing among children can be managed at home in most cases. A doctor should be consulted if the child has difficulty breathing, has breathing that is faster than normal or bluish color to the skin or lips.
A child who has high fever or 3 months of age or below with fever must be properly assessed by a doctor. Whooping cough among infants 3 months old or younger or coughing up blood is another indication that medical care is required. A doctor should be consulted if the cough persists for more than 3 weeks.
Management at home
There are measures that can be done at home to relieve the discomfort of the child. You can utilize a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom. When it comes to croup, you can prepare a “steam” room in the bathroom by running hot water in the shower and let the child sit for 15-20 minutes. You can also serve cool beverages such as water or juice to soothe a sore throat from excessive coughing.