A dry cough does not produce any mucus or sputum but can be painful and forceful. The treatment for this type of cough in an infant is based on the underlying cause. In some cases, antibiotics might be prescribed by the doctor for bacterial infections. The home treatment options include the use of a humidifier or vaporizing chest rubs. It is recommended to consult a doctor before using any medications to an infant including over-the-counter infant medications.
Common cold is a viral infection that involves the respiratory system. At the start of the cold, the infant experiences a slight irritation or tickle in the throat that triggers him/her to cough. As the condition progresses, the cough can become wet with mucus.
Several days after when the cold starts to clear up, the infant might have dry cough again as the mucus drainage slows down. Since common cold is caused by a virus, treatment at home aims on providing comfort to the child.
The influenza virus causes symptoms that are similar to the common cold but an infant might feel and look worse. Just like with the cold, flu can start out as a dry, hoarse cough. As the condition progresses, the infant will start to produce phlegm with cough as the flu starts to improve.
Exposure to environmental irritants
The infant might be sensitive to environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, hot and dry air as well as chemical odors. It is important to note that these types of environmental agents can trigger an itchy, dry cough and throat. The treatment typically involves keeping the infant away from any irritants. Hot, dry air is quite common during the winter season and can be managed by using a cool mist humidifier in the room of the infant while sleeping.
Pertussis or whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that involves a respiratory cough. Infants who acquire this infection will have a violent cough that is followed by the distinctive “whooping” sound as the child attempts to breathe in. The cough with pertussis is often dry, almost to a choking type. Other indications of the illness include coughing that is hard that the infant experiences eye tearing or becomes bluish in color along with the protrusion of the tongue.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that can affect infants. Take note that this condition can occur once the stomach acid and contents makes their way back to the esophagus, thus causing a burning sensation, frequent spitting up or vomiting. The acid can irritate the throat, thus the infant ends up with a persistent dry cough without other symptoms of illness. Various prescription and over-the-counter medications can help alleviate this condition but must only be used under the supervision of a doctor.