Key points to remember
- coughing is common in children, especially when they are pre-school age
- causes of cough include colds, asthma and chest infections. Second-hand cigarette smoke commonly causes children to cough even when they are well
- many children will continue coughing for three weeks or more following a simple cold
- a cough that lasts longer than four weeks is not normal and may be a sign of chest disease
- you need to see a doctor if your child has had a cough and a fever, is working hard at breathing, or the cough has lasted more than four weeks
How common is coughing?
Coughing is common in children, especially when they are pre-school age, and is usually short-lived.
Ten to twenty percent of preschoolers will cough for three weeks or more following a cold. Even children without a cold may cough on average ten times a day but not consistently every day and usually not at night.
A daily cough for greater than four weeks is NOT normal and may be a sign of chest disease.
When should I seek help?
It is important to take your child to the doctor if they have:
- a persistent daily cough for longer than four weeks, or
- a cough and another problem, such as:
*working hard with their breathing, or
* breathing fast, or
* having a temperature higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius, or
* not speaking normally or being unable to finish a whole sentence because of their coughing or breathing, or
* wheezing or whistling in their chest, or
- a cough and you are worried that something is wrong
If in doubt, always see your doctor.
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