When a Cough Is Cause for Concern

If you are a parent, sick kids are always a concern.

So how do you know when a common cough is reason to worry?

Dr. Elaine Schulte, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic, said there are a few things parents need to watch out for.

“Typically a cough can last for seven to 10 days after the runny nose stops, so when you get really nervous is when the cough interrupts sleep, if there’s fever accompanying the cough or if the cough seems to be spreading through the house,” Schulte said.

Schulte said most children develop a cough following an upper respiratory infection, and a humidifier can be very helpful in relieving congestion.

Another helpful hint? Fluids, which keeps the back of the throat moist. Older children can always take cough drops, Schulte said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, studies show that cough medicine does not work in children younger than six years old and may actually have potentially serious side effects.

Schulte said if your child does have a cough, it’s best to encourage it, so secretions and mucus do not become trapped in the lungs, which could lead to pneumonia.

If a cough lasts longer than 10 days, Schulte said the parent should call the pediatrician to make sure the child does not have pneumonia, whooping cough or a sinus infection.