Cough in children

Cough is a defensive reaction of the body to expel irritants, such as:

Common causes of cough include:

  1. Infection
  2. Viral flu
  3. Croup (croup cough) may cause persistent cough in children
  4. Chickenpox

These conditions usually cause a dry cough, but croup cough is also associated with noisy breathing.
Kindergarten children are more likely to become infected.

Other reasons for cough in children include:

  • Inhalation of a foreign body, for example a chunk of food
  • Exposure to irritants such as smoke from cigarettes or from the fireplace
  • In winter, the most likely cause is a viral or bacterial infection, while in spring or summer, an allergy may be the cause of the cough.


Persistent cough in children

Gastroesophageal reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux is the reflux of food and digestive juices from the stomach into the esophagus. In children, gastroesophageal reflux can have the following effects:

In the diet, certain foods should be avoided, such as:

  • Fatty foods
  • Carbonated drinks (especially with caffeine)
  • Chocolate

It is recommended to eat at least two hours before bedtime.
The symptoms usually worsen in the evening and at night while the child is sleeping.

Allergy Allergy
can cause:

  • Persistent cough
  • Itching in the throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Rash

Allergens include:

  • Food (e.g. milk)
  • Pollen
  • Hair of pets
  • Dust

Whooping cough
Whooping cough is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Initially, whooping cough is characterized by a cough that comes and goes, especially in the aftermath.
Other symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneeze
  • Mild fever

After that, the child develops:

  • Very strong and persistent cough (sometimes for 2-3 months)
  • Severe breathing difficulties

Whooping cough is contagious, but can be prevented by vaccination.

Asthma Asthma
is one of the most common causes of persistent cough in children. In the case of asthma, a whistling or wheezing may be heard when breathing.
The reason for this is the narrowing or occlusion of the bronchial airways, which leads to the emergence of this sound.
The symptoms are:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Gasping breath
  • Persistent nocturnal cough

Croup cough or croup
Croup is a viral infection that can affect the following organs:

This disease results in narrowing of the airways with the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Breathing sounds (Stridor)
  • Hoarseness

External factors
The cause could be caused by external factors, for example:

  1. Passive smoking and atmospheric pollution
  2. Inhalation of food
  3. Allergy to dust, pollen and pet hair
  4. Some medicines cause continued coughing as a side effect, for example non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Dolormin) and ketoprofen (Gabrilen)

In general, a cough due to a viral infection lasts no more than 2 weeks.

Causes of cough and fever in children

Teeth: Tooth growth is one of the most common causes of cough and fever in young children.
The excessive salivation during tooth eruption causes the cough.
This symptom is accompanied by low fever (elevated temperature).

Asthma: Asthma is a respiratory disease and can lead to chronic coughing in children.
In the case of asthmatic bronchitis, asthma can occur together with sometimes high fever.
The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • Dyspnea
  • Cough that does not pass
  • Hissing and whistling while breathing

Allergy: If a child has a food allergy, a grass allergy, etc., contact with these allergens can be the cause of:

Other symptoms include:

  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath

An allergy to milk protein should not be confused with lactose intolerance, which affects adults.

Respiratory infections: Respiratory infections (bacterial or viral) can lead to:

Persistent cough and fever can weaken the immune system in children and affect health in general.

Cold/influenza: A cold or influenza are the most common causes of:

  • Dry or productive cough
  • Fever

Symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Mucus formation
  • Lack of appetite

The duration of a cold or influenza is about a week, but at least 5 days.

Contagious viral infections:
Viral infections often cause cough and fever.
Among the triggering viruses are mainly:

  • Adenoviruses
  • Varicella
  • Morbillivirus
  • Influenza viruses
  • Syncytial virus

Chronic cough with mucus formation

Persistent morning cough with sputum is caused by mucus accumulation in the lungs during the night.

Chronic cough with sputum in children can be caused by:

  • Allergies to various allergens such as dust, chemicals, smoke, etc.
  • Passive smoking is one of the reasons for productive cough. About the cough, the body tries to rid itself of tar and enriched poisons.
  • Acute and chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Whooping cough

Bloody tinged mucus can be the symptom of a serious condition such as:

What to do? Therapy of cough in children

What to give children against dry or productive cough.

Parents are always concerned about the side effects of the medicines in children, especially if they are one to three years old.

The following are some notes on the medicines.

Cough suppressant for dry cough

Vicks cough syrup®, NeoTussan® and cough suppressant-ratiopharm ® are medicines based on dextromethorphan.
These drugs are recommended by doctors and pharmacists against dry cough.

These funds can be given to children from the age of 6 years.
They should only be used for a short period of time.
Cough suppressants can cause secretion congestion.

This way:

  • the germs accumulate,
  • can cause new infections.

Medications for productive cough

With productive cough, the doctor prescribes:

  • Cough suppressants: increase the amount of secretion, help liquefy the mucus, which is easy to cough up.
  • Expectorants: reduce the viscosity of the mucus secretion and thus facilitate expectoration.


This active ingredient is found in pharmacies as Vicks cough solver (syrup).
Guaifenesin may make it easier to cough up breast mucus.
This drug is contraindicated in children under 2 years of age.


Acetyl stone
This active ingredient is found in pharmacies as ACC children’s juice (syrup).
Acetyl stone is useful for productive coughs, as it facilitates expectoration.
This drug is contraindicated in children under 2 years of age.

Oils for inhalation

Vicks VapoRub Vicks VapoRub

  • Menthol
  • Camphor
  • Essential oils (eucalyptus and turpentine)

Vicks VapoRub is contraindicated in children up to 6 years of age.
This cough suppressant:

  • can be used for inhalation dissolved in hot water (2 teaspoons to 1/2 liter of water),
  • can be rubbed on the child’s chest.

Vicks VapoRub alleviates:

This medication should be used for a maximum of 3 days.

Analgesics and anti-inflammatories
These medicines are also called painkillers because they relieve pain.
These medicines include:

  1. Paracetamol
  2. Ibuprofen (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs))

Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen reduce pain caused by respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and lower fever.

Children and adolescents under the age of 16 should not take aspirin because it could cause Reye’s syndrome, an extremely life-threatening disease of the brain and liver.

Bronchodilators and corticosteroids

If the child has asthma, the doctor prescribes bronchodilators to relieve symptoms.

  • Salbutamol as syrup (Ventolin syrup)
  • Aerosol (Ventolin)

These drugs are contraindicated in children up to 3 years of age.

Corticosteroids If the child is asthmatic, the doctor may treat the following medications

  • Betamethasone (Bentelan)
  • Beclometasone (Prontinal)

Due to the side effects, caution should be exercised with these drugs.

For bacterial respiratory infections, the doctor may prescribe the following antibiotic:

  • Azithromycin (Zithromax)

Natural remedies for cough in children

Young children may often have coughing attacks and runny noses because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

Experts say that children can have eight to ten recurrences in the first two years of life.
Children can go out into the air when they feel healthy, but should always be adequately protected by clothing.

With bronchitis, the cough may occur with or without sputum.

  • In case of dry cough, self-prepared cough sedatives can be administered
  • In the case of a productive cough, the cough must not be suppressed, as it promotes the release of the bronchi

Steam inhalation is the best way to calm dry coughs. Heat and moisture dilute the mucus, which is easier to cough up.

Drinking hot water during the day helps liquefy mucus and relieves coughing.

Holidays in the mountains could be contraindicated due to the dry climate.
A seaside resort is recommended as the more humid air can be helpful for children with respiratory conditions.

It is not advisable to give honey to children under 2 years of age to treat the cough, as it:

  • may lead to an allergic reaction;
  • can lead to infantile botulism due to the presence of pollen and bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum.

You can take honey in the evening before going to bed to quench the nightly cough.

Natural treatment and herbal remedies for children over 2 years of age

  • Honey and lemon: Mix a teaspoon of honey with 2-3 drops of lemon juice. It is recommended to take this in the morning on an empty stomach for 3-4 days.
  • Cayenne pepper, ginger, apple cider vinegar and honey. For this home remedy, make a mixture of:
    – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper – 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder – 2 tablespoons water
    – 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

    – 1 tablespoon honeyTake two teaspoons of this syrup twice a day. In a week, the cough should be relieved.

  • Freshly squeezed juice of oranges and citrus fruits. Avoid caffeinated drinks and drink 2-3 glasses of fresh orange juice a day.
    This strengthens the immune system and relieves coughing.
  • Turmeric and honey. Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a tablespoon of honey and take before bedtime. This is an excellent cough sedative for children.
  • GarlicGarlic helps against colds and influenza. In case of cough, a syrup based on garlic and honey can be prepared.
    • Peel and mash a handful of garlic cloves.
    • Place the garlic with honey in a sealable glass jar.
    • Wait at least 24 hours, then take a tablespoon of it as needed in case of cough.

Natural remedies for cough in infants

Tea with lemon: Make a tea from:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 glass of lukewarm water

For children under 4 months, lemon is contraindicated.

Do not use honey or stevia as a natural sweetener if the children are younger than two years old.

Herbal-based massage therapy: This is an effective remedy for cough in children.
The herbal massage is carried out with a mixture of:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 drops of essential oil, for example:
    • Sage
    • Rosemary
    • Eucalyptus
    • Peppermint

Apply the mixture on the back and chest of the child and cover well.

Alternatively, you can use balsamic ointments, such as Tiger Balm.
The original ointment is based on:

  • Menthol
  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Clove oil
  • Mint oil

The original product also contains paraffin and petroleum jelly.
Use in children under 6 years of age is contraindicated.

Steam: Steam is a very good remedy for cough.
For example, you can simply take a hot shower.

Room humidifier: If the child is disturbed by coughing during sleep, a room humidifier is very useful.
Add a few drops of sage oil or thyme oil to the humidifier in the child’s room.

When to worry about coughing in children?

If the child has other symptoms, the emergency service should be consulted or the doctor called, for example:

  1. Fever above 39° C
  2. Cyanosis with blue discoloration of the lips
  3. Shortness of breath

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