Fort Worth, Texas,
13
February
2017

8 Different Kinds Of Coughs You May Hear From Your Child

Doc Smitty on if a cough is dangerous or not

Trying to decide if a cough is dangerous or not? Requires a doctor’s visit or not? Requires treatment or not?

It can be really hard to determine the cause of a cough just because of the sound. But here are some different types of coughs and the clues that might help you or the doctor know what is going on.

  1. Short time period: Most coughs that last a few days are due to infection, most commonly viruses.
  2. Long time period: Coughs that last longer bring up other possibilities, including sinus infections, allergies, asthma, or reflux.
  3. Wet cough: Wet coughs with congestion can caused by a variety of reasons but are more commonly infections (most of which are viruses) or allergies. The presence of fever points towards infection while itchy or watery eyes suggest allergies.
  4. Tight cough: A tight sounding cough can often be a sign of asthma. If your child has a history of wheezing or the cough is associated with exercise or weather change, think asthma.
  5. Cough after eating: Yes, reflux can be a cause of chronic cough and it’s actually more common than you might think. Pay attention the timing and if certain foods might be triggers.
  6. Barky cough: Think like a dog or seal. Croup is the most common cause of this type of cough. Usually the child will have runny nose and they can have fever as well. Steam is a good way to treat this cough so use a humidifier or the bathroom with the shower going. If severe or difficulty breathing, the doctor can provide steroids and other treatments.
  7. Whooping cough: This cough is severe and comes in terrible spells that end in a whooping sound as the child breathes in. It requires a doctor’s visit and treatment so get it checked out soon.
  8. Annoying, chronic throat clearing cough: This can be caused by many reasons but an important one to think about is tics. Children can have vocal tics that sound like throat clearing or even a mild cough.

There are lots of reasons why a child might be coughing but hopefully some of these tips will help you determine what you need to do next.

About the author

Justin Smith is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. His interest in communications started when he realized that his parents were relying more on the internet for medical information. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in 2017.

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