A cough helps to clear your child’s throat and lungs. A cough may last only 2–3 weeks (acute), or it may last longer than 8 weeks (chronic). Many different things can cause a cough. A cough may be a sign of an illness or another medical condition.
- Pay attention to any changes in your child’s symptoms.
- Give your child medicines only as told by your child’s doctor.
- If your child was prescribed an antibiotic medicine, give it as told by your child’s doctor. Do not stop giving the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.
- Do not give your child aspirin.
- Do not give honey or honey products to children who are younger than 1 year of age. For children who are older than 1 year of age, honey may help to lessen coughing.
- Do not give your child cough medicine unless your child’s doctor says it is okay.
- Have your child drink enough fluid to keep his or her pee (urine) clear or pale yellow.
- If the air is dry, use a cold steam vaporizer or humidifier in your child’s bedroom or your home. Giving your child a warm bath before bedtime can also help.
- If coughing is worse at night, an older child can use extra pillows to raise his or her head up higher for sleep. Do not put pillows or other loose items in the crib of a baby who is younger than 1 year of age. Follow directions from your child’s doctor about safe sleeping for babies and children.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke.
- Do not allow your child to have caffeine.
- Have your child rest as needed.
Get Help If:
- Your child has a barking cough.
- Your child makes whistling sounds (wheezing) or sounds hoarse (stridor) when breathing in and out.
- Your child has new problems (symptoms).
- Your child wakes up at night because of coughing.
- Your child still has a cough after 2 weeks.
- Your child vomits from the cough.
- Your child has a fever again after it went away for 24 hours.
- Your child’s fever gets worse after 3 days.
- Your child has night sweats.
Get Help Immediately If:
- Your child is short of breath.
- Your child’s lips turn blue or turn a color that is not normal.
- Your child coughs up blood.
- You think that your child might be choking.
- Your child has chest pain or belly (abdominal) pain with breathing or coughing.
- Your child seems confused or very tired (lethargic).
- Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.