See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one):
- A cough is the sound made when the cough reflex suddenly forces air and secretions from the lungs
- A coughing spasm is over 5 minutes of continuous coughing
- Most acute coughs are part of a cold, a viral infection of the large airway (viral bronchitis)
- Other common causes: croup, bronchiolitis, asthma, allergic cough, whooping cough
Sputum or Phlegm
- Yellow or green phlegm is a normal part of the healing process of viral bronchitis.
- This means the lining of the trachea was damaged by the viral infection and is being coughed up as new mucosa replaces it.
- Bacteria do not cause bronchitis in healthy children. Antibiotics are not indicated for the yellow or green phlegm seen with colds.
- The main treatment of a productive cough is to encourage it with good fluid intake, a humidifier (if the air is dry) and warm chicken broth or apple juice for coughing spasms (if over age 1).
Return to School
- Your child can return to child care or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities. For practical purposes, the spread of coughs and colds cannot be prevented.
When to Call for Cough
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
Call Us Now (night or day) If
Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
Call Us During Weekday Office Hours If
Parent Care at Home If
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR COUGHReassurance:
- Coughs are a normal part of a cold.
- Coughing up mucus is very important for protecting the lungs from pneumonia.
- We want to encourage a productive cough, not turn it off.
- Goal: reduce the irritation or tickle in the throat that triggers a dry cough.
- AGE 3 months to 1 year: Give warm clear fluids (e.g., water or apple juice) to treat the cough. Amount: 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml) four times per day when coughing. Avoid honey until 1 year old.
- AGE 1 year and older: Use HONEY ½ to 1 teaspoon (2-5 ml) as needed as a homemade cough medicine. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. (If not available, can use corn syrup.)
- AGE 6 years and older: Use COUGH DROPS to coat the irritated throat. (If not available, can use hard candy.)
- Non-prescription cough medicines are not recommended. (Reason: no proven benefit for children and not approved for children under 4 years old) (FDA 2008)
- Honey has been shown to work better for coughs.
- If you decide to use a cough medicine from your drugstore and your child is over age 4 years, choose one with dextromethorphan (DM). It's present in most non-prescription cough syrups.
- Indication: Give only for severe coughs that interfere with sleep, school or work.
- DM Dosage: See Dosage table. Give every 6 to 8 hours for severe coughs that interfere with sleep, school or work.
- Expose to warm mist (e.g., foggy bathroom).
- Give warm fluids to drink (e.g., warm water or apple juice) if over 3 months of age.
- Amount: If 3 months to 1 year of age, give warm fluids in a dosage of 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml) four times per day when coughing. If over 1 year of age, use unlimited amounts as needed.
- Reason: both relax the airway and loosen up the phlegm