A cough that is more noticeable when your child is lying down is usually caused by mucus running down the back of the throat (post-nasal drip) from an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, sinusitis, or allergy. A child usually has a runny or stuffy nose, may be irritable, and may have a fever. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to provide relief for this type of cough.
A cough during the night that sounds like a barking seal may be a sign of croup. Your child may sound hoarse with a high-pitched sound (stridor) when breathing in. Home treatment may be all that is needed in most cases. But a barking cough that continues through the day or occurs with difficulty breathing can be more serious.
A child may cough in response to emotional issues (psychogenic cough). This type of cough is present without other symptoms.
Any cough in a baby younger than 3 months, even without other symptoms, needs to be taken seriously. If the cough occurs with a change in feeding habits or decreased activity level, your child needs to be evaluated by a health professional. If your child is acting normally in every other way, simply watch him or her closely for 24 hours.
A cough that is persistent, interrupts sleep, or slows your child down needs to be watched closely. A cough is more likely to be serious if it:
A cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks is usually a sign of an allergy, sinus infection, asthma, or reflux. But it may mean a more serious problem. A visit to your child's doctor is needed when a cough is persistent.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Current as ofMarch 25, 2017
Current as of: March 25, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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