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Baby Illness
January 25, 2023

My Baby has a Cough: Should I be Worried?

By:
iMumz Expert Panel
Worried about your baby's cough? Learn the signs of when it's time to seek medical attention and how to ease their symptoms!
Verified by:
iMumz Expert Panel
|
Updated on:
January 12, 2023

Your little one is still adjusting in this new world and catching an infection is quite likely. When it comes to childhood illnesses, coughs are the most common. The sound of your baby coughing can make you distressed and scared, but in most cases, it's nothing to worry about. In fact, coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps protect the airways in the throat and chest.

Types of Cough

Barky Cough

This cough that sounds li a bark is most like due to an infection called croup. Croup refers to an infection of the upper airway, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough. The cough and other signs and symptoms of croup are the results of swelling around the voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), and bronchial tubes (bronchi). Most of the time, a barky cough comes from croup, a swelling of the larynx (voice box), and trachea (windpipe). Younger children have smaller airways that, if swollen, can make it hard to breathe. Kids younger than 3 are most at risk for croup because their airways are so narrow.

A cough from croup can start suddenly, often in the middle of the night. Most kids with croup will also have stridor, which is noisy, harsh breathing that happens when the child inhales. The viruses that cause croup can be spread easily through coughing, sneezing, and respiratory secretions (mucus, droplets from coughing or sneezing). Children with croup should be considered contagious for three days after the illness begins or until the fever is gone.

Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (pertussis) is an infection of the airways caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Kids with pertussis will have spells of back-to-back coughs without breathing in between. At the end of the coughing, they'll take a deep breath that makes a "whooping" sound. Other symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and a low-grade fever. Whooping cough can happen at age- but is most severe in infants under 1 year old who did not get the pertussis vaccine, which is part of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis). It's very contagious, so all kids should get the pertussis shot at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 4–6 years of age.

Cough With Wheezing

If your child makes a wheezing (whistling) sound when breathing out (exhaling), this could mean that the lower airways in the lungs are swollen. This can happen with asthma or with the viral infection bronchiolitis. Wheezing also can happen if the lower airway is blocked by a foreign object. A child who starts to cough after inhaling something such as food or a small toy should see a doctor.

Night-time Cough

Lots of coughs get worse at night. When your child has a cold, the mucus from the nose and sinuses can drain down the throat and trigger a cough during sleep. This is only a problem if the cough won't let your child sleep. Asthma can also trigger night-time coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and irritable at night.

Daytime Cough

Cold air or activity can make coughs worse during the daytime. Try to make sure that nothing in your house — like air freshener, pets, or smoke (especially tobacco smoke) — is making your child cough.

Cough With a Fever

A child who has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose probably has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher can sometimes be due to pneumonia, especially if a child is weak and breathing fast. In this case, call your doctor immediately.

Cough With Vomiting

Kids often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex, making them throw up. Also, a child who has a cough with a cold or an asthma flare-up might vomit if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea. Usually, not causing for alarm unless the vomiting doesn't stop.

Persistent Cough

Coughs caused by colds due to viruses can last weeks, especially if a child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or airways also might cause lasting coughs. If your child still has a cough after 3 weeks, call your doctor.

Remedies

Most coughs are caused by viruses and they will take their own time to go. Sometimes, this can take up to 2 weeks. Doctors usually don't prescribe antibiotics because these work only against bacteria, not viruses. So, try to make the baby as comfortable as you can and let the virus pass. Unless a cough won't let your child sleep, cough medicines are not needed. They might help a child stop coughing, but they don't treat the cause of the cough.

If you do use an over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine, call the doctor to be sure of the correct dose and to make sure it's safe for your child. Do not use OTC combination medicines (like Sinarest paediatric drops or syrup) as they have more than one medicine in them, and kids can have more side effects than adults and are more likely to get overdose of the medicine.

Ayurvedic Alternatives

Take a handful of Tulsi leaves and crush them well in a mortar and pestle. Now put this in a boiling pan with two cups of water and boil until the water has reduced. Add two pinches of shunthi churna (dry ginger powder) to it. Allow the mixture to cool down and give this to your child three to four times a day. Children above 6 months should be given this.

Tulsi, the mother of medicines boosts the production of antibodies thereby preventing the onset of any infections.

Tulsi has cough-relieving properties. It helps soothe the airways by helping you cough out the sticky mucus. Give a teaspoonful of honey before going to bed at night to reduce the severity of the cough. Continue till you do not get relief from the cough. Honey provides relief from chest congestion by loosening thick mucus and helping the baby to drain it out through the nose or through stools. This helps reduce wet cough.

In the Article

Your little one is still adjusting in this new world and catching an infection is quite likely. When it comes to childhood illnesses, coughs are the most common. The sound of your baby coughing can make you distressed and scared, but in most cases, it's nothing to worry about. In fact, coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps protect the airways in the throat and chest.

Types of Cough

Barky Cough

This cough that sounds li a bark is most like due to an infection called croup. Croup refers to an infection of the upper airway, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough. The cough and other signs and symptoms of croup are the results of swelling around the voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), and bronchial tubes (bronchi). Most of the time, a barky cough comes from croup, a swelling of the larynx (voice box), and trachea (windpipe). Younger children have smaller airways that, if swollen, can make it hard to breathe. Kids younger than 3 are most at risk for croup because their airways are so narrow.

A cough from croup can start suddenly, often in the middle of the night. Most kids with croup will also have stridor, which is noisy, harsh breathing that happens when the child inhales. The viruses that cause croup can be spread easily through coughing, sneezing, and respiratory secretions (mucus, droplets from coughing or sneezing). Children with croup should be considered contagious for three days after the illness begins or until the fever is gone.

Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (pertussis) is an infection of the airways caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Kids with pertussis will have spells of back-to-back coughs without breathing in between. At the end of the coughing, they'll take a deep breath that makes a "whooping" sound. Other symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and a low-grade fever. Whooping cough can happen at age- but is most severe in infants under 1 year old who did not get the pertussis vaccine, which is part of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis). It's very contagious, so all kids should get the pertussis shot at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 4–6 years of age.

Cough With Wheezing

If your child makes a wheezing (whistling) sound when breathing out (exhaling), this could mean that the lower airways in the lungs are swollen. This can happen with asthma or with the viral infection bronchiolitis. Wheezing also can happen if the lower airway is blocked by a foreign object. A child who starts to cough after inhaling something such as food or a small toy should see a doctor.

Night-time Cough

Lots of coughs get worse at night. When your child has a cold, the mucus from the nose and sinuses can drain down the throat and trigger a cough during sleep. This is only a problem if the cough won't let your child sleep. Asthma can also trigger night-time coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and irritable at night.

Daytime Cough

Cold air or activity can make coughs worse during the daytime. Try to make sure that nothing in your house — like air freshener, pets, or smoke (especially tobacco smoke) — is making your child cough.

Cough With a Fever

A child who has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose probably has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher can sometimes be due to pneumonia, especially if a child is weak and breathing fast. In this case, call your doctor immediately.

Cough With Vomiting

Kids often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex, making them throw up. Also, a child who has a cough with a cold or an asthma flare-up might vomit if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea. Usually, not causing for alarm unless the vomiting doesn't stop.

Persistent Cough

Coughs caused by colds due to viruses can last weeks, especially if a child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or airways also might cause lasting coughs. If your child still has a cough after 3 weeks, call your doctor.

Remedies

Most coughs are caused by viruses and they will take their own time to go. Sometimes, this can take up to 2 weeks. Doctors usually don't prescribe antibiotics because these work only against bacteria, not viruses. So, try to make the baby as comfortable as you can and let the virus pass. Unless a cough won't let your child sleep, cough medicines are not needed. They might help a child stop coughing, but they don't treat the cause of the cough.

If you do use an over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine, call the doctor to be sure of the correct dose and to make sure it's safe for your child. Do not use OTC combination medicines (like Sinarest paediatric drops or syrup) as they have more than one medicine in them, and kids can have more side effects than adults and are more likely to get overdose of the medicine.

Ayurvedic Alternatives

Take a handful of Tulsi leaves and crush them well in a mortar and pestle. Now put this in a boiling pan with two cups of water and boil until the water has reduced. Add two pinches of shunthi churna (dry ginger powder) to it. Allow the mixture to cool down and give this to your child three to four times a day. Children above 6 months should be given this.

Tulsi, the mother of medicines boosts the production of antibodies thereby preventing the onset of any infections.

Tulsi has cough-relieving properties. It helps soothe the airways by helping you cough out the sticky mucus. Give a teaspoonful of honey before going to bed at night to reduce the severity of the cough. Continue till you do not get relief from the cough. Honey provides relief from chest congestion by loosening thick mucus and helping the baby to drain it out through the nose or through stools. This helps reduce wet cough.

Baby Illness
January 25, 2023

My Baby has a Cough: Should I be Worried?

By:
iMumz Expert Panel

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