Children with persistent cough: When to see a doctor?

The article is professionally consulted by Master, Doctor Nguyen Nam Phong - Pediatrician - Pediatrics - Neonatology Department - Vinmec Phu Quoc International General Hospital.
Coughing is a beneficial reflex of the body to protect the airways and help children breathe easier. However, if the child has a persistent cough, it is most likely a warning sign of some dangerous disease. In this case, parents should have their child examined carefully to determine the cause and find an effective treatment.

1. What is a persistent cough?

Persistent cough in children is a condition in which a child has a persistent cough for more than 4 weeks. Most cases of persistent dry cough occur in young children (2-3 years old). About 5 - 10% of children 6 - 10 years old have this condition. Prolonged coughing causes many effects on the quality of life of children: Making children not sleep well, or waking up at night, stress, sadness, anxiety and loss in learning,...

2. Causes of persistent cough in children

There are many causes of persistent dry cough in children. Diseases such as bronchitis, ear infections, rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, cardiovascular disease, etc. all cause coughing. In addition, certain medications or psychological problems can also cause persistent cough in children. A persistent cough can also be caused by a respiratory infection caused by Bordetella bacteria. Among the causes, parents should pay special attention to the causes of tuberculosis and asthma.
Causes of persistent cough vary with age:
Infants (1 - 12 months old): Persistent cough due to respiratory viral infections, whooping cough, tuberculosis, atypical bacterial infections,...; bronchial asthma, congenital heart disease, respiratory anomalies, gastroesophageal reflux. Children: Prolonged dry cough due to bronchial asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, neglected airway foreign body, bronchial hypersensitivity after respiratory viral infection,... Older children: Long-term cough due to respiratory viral infection. tuberculosis, bronchial asthma, postnasal drip syndrome, bronchiectasis or psychogenic cough. The nature of the cough also shows a number of causes such as:
Prolonged cough with sputum due to allergies, asthma, ... Cough flushing due to pertussis, foreign objects in the airways or atypical bacteria such as: Mycoplasma, Chlamydia,... Cough after breastfeeding, after eating, when lying down due to gastroesophageal reflux. Cough after exercise, strenuous activity due to asthma. Cough at night due to sinusitis, asthma,... Only cough when awake, never cough while sleeping, it may be psychological.
Nguyên nhân trẻ bị ho kéo dài
Hen phế quản là một trong những nguyên nhân trẻ bị ho kéo dài.

3. What should parents pay attention to when a child has a persistent dry cough?

Cough is a beneficial reflex, so parents should not worry too much and find ways to control it if the child occasionally has a mild cough. In case the child has a persistent cough that doesn't go away, parents can follow these instructions:
Give the child plenty of water to drink to soothe the throat, relieve cough, and effectively thin the sputum. Daily hygiene of the nose and throat for children. Can be cleaned with salt water 2 to 3 times a day. Let children use some safe herbs and folk remedies for cough such as sugar, honey, ginger, drink warm tea,... Only use cough medicine when the child has too much cough or causes it. bad consequences such as chest pain, insomnia, vomiting, ... If it is necessary to use cough medicine for children, parents should note:
Only cough medicine should be used that is suitable for the age and nature of the child's cough. Do not arbitrarily give children cough medicines intended for adults to avoid side effects. When children cough with phlegm, they should not use cough suppressants (which often contain antihistamines or dextromethorphan), but should use expectorants to effectively treat coughs. Cough medicines containing (dexchlorpheniramine, chlorpheniramine, alimemazine,...) should only be used for children with persistent dry cough and in accordance with age indications.

4. How to prevent prolonged cough for children

To help children not have a prolonged cough, parents should note:
Avoid exposing children to allergens or irritants, sudden temperature changes, for example: Smoke, dust, dog and cat hair , smoke, air-conditioned room in and out,...
Enhance physical fitness by exercising, following a nutritious diet.
Get vaccinated against influenza, pneumonia or other upper respiratory infections as directed by your doctor.

5. When should children with persistent cough go to the doctor?

5.1. Cases that need to take the baby to the hospital immediately The following are some dangerous symptoms that warn parents to take their child to the doctor immediately:
The child refuses to breastfeed, sucks little or no milk, can't drink milk . Baby sleeps, hard to wake up. The child has a convulsion. Children with difficulty breathing: Breathing faster than usual, breathing in thoracic constriction (the lower part of the chest is indented when the child inhales instead of expanding as usual). The child breathes with a hissing sound. The baby is coughing up blood. Cough that starts suddenly after a child eats or plays (due to a foreign body in the airway). Cough with high fever. Coughing up thick, green - yellow sputum with an unpleasant odor.
Khi nào cho trẻ ho kéo dài đi khám
Nên cho trẻ bị ho lâu ngày đi khám nếu bé có nhiều triệu chứng khó chịu
5.2. Cases that should take the child to the doctor soon If the child has the following signs, parents should also arrange a time to take the child to the doctor:
The child coughs a lot, does not decrease after 7 days of care. The child's cough lasts more than 10-14 days. Children with cough with weight loss, sweating in the afternoon (may be a sign of tuberculosis). Children under 3 months of age have a lot of cough. Cough with protracted phlegm. Wheezing (asthma). Children have difficulty eating, sucking, swallowing,... When children have a long-lasting dry cough, parents should take them to a doctor soon so that the doctor can accurately diagnose the health problem that the baby is having and give a solution. prompt and effective treatment.
Parents can take their children to Vinmec International General Hospital, one of the leading hospitals in the country for examination, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the respiratory tract, digestive tract, urinary tract, nutrition. , especially in infants and young children. Vinmec Hospital owns modern equipment, sterile space, minimizing the impact as well as the risk of disease spread. Besides, the dedication from doctors with professional experience with pediatric patients, makes the examination no longer a concern for parents.

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