Why do children cough?

Why do children cough?

Why Do Children Cough

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Kids can cough for many reasons. Colds are the most common, but they can also cough from croup, allergies, asthma, pertussis, inhaled irritants (smoke), inhaled foreign bodies, sinus infections, and tuberculosis — to name a few.

In general, the cough is a friend, not an enemy. It protects the lungs, clears secretions, helps to get rid of infections, and alerts us that the body is dealing with something.

If the cough is from a common cold, and it is interfering with sleeping or with drinking plenty of liquids, though, then trying to stop the cough may be worthwhile.

I do not recommend over the counter cough and cold remedies for children under 6. Carefully controlled studies have not been able to show any benefit – and in a small number of children they can have serious side effects. Yes, many children do get better when they take decongestants, antihistamines, and chemical cough suppressants for coughs and colds, but on average they get the same amount of relief from taking a placebo.

If the cough persists, get in touch with the doctor. Perhaps something more than a common cold is causing the cough.

August 23, 2008

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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