Dry and wet cough in a child: why and how to treat?

Cough is a symptom of various infectious diseases, colds are just one of them..

A prolonged cough in a child without a fever is an alarming sign that may indicate the presence of a serious illness. Cough, accompanied by fever, should not be ignored.

Causes of a prolonged cough in children

A prolonged cough is considered one that does not go away for more than 3-4 weeks, but it is necessary to consult a doctor if the cough torments the child for more than a week. The cough may occur daily or intermittently. In any case, a persistent cough does not fit into the concept of the norm and requires a doctor’s consultation.

What diseases can cough talk about?

Cough is accompanied by many diseases, including:

  • acute and chronic respiratory and pulmonary diseases,
  • bronchial asthma,
  • tuberculosis,
  • neoplasms in the lungs
  • sarcoidosis,
  • fibrosis,
  • whooping cough,
  • allergy,
  • false croup (swelling of the trachea),
  • measles,
  • heart failure,
  • reflux.

Sometimes a cough is caused by mechanical irritation when inhaling caustic substances or drying out of the mucous membranes due to too dry air in the apartment.

For timely action, it is very important to learn to distinguish between dry and wet cough in a child, since the mechanism of occurrence, the causes, and the methods of treatment for these two types of cough are different.

Dry cough in a child (unproductive)

Tiresome and importunate, often very violent and painful, but not accompanied by expectoration. Dry cough in a child is a characteristic sign of the initial stage of respiratory diseases, such as influenza. It also accompanies the development of whooping cough. Often, a sudden attack of dry cough is associated with the ingestion of some small object into the respiratory tract.

cough in children

Cough in children

A prolonged dry cough that lasts for weeks without being accompanied by fever or weakness is often a sign of an allergy. Most often, the “culprits” of such a reaction are:

  • dust,
  • pet hair,
  • tobacco smoke
  • car exhaust, etc.

The same effect can be caused by burning the respiratory tract with hot air or inhaling caustic substances, as well as irritation with gastric acid during reflux.

Wet cough in a baby (productive)

With a wet cough, sputum leaves, gurgling wheezing can be heard when breathing. During such a cough, the bronchi are cleared of fluid. A wet cough is characteristic of acute respiratory diseases (their onset is accompanied by a dry cough, but it quickly turns into a wet one), pneumonia, and tuberculosis. It is important to pay attention to the color of the outgoing mucus:

  • if it is greenish, the child may have pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, sinusitis, or purulent bronchitis;
  • yellow sputum is a sign of purulent processes;
  • a rusty color indicates the presence of blood in the sputum, this is typical for pneumonia, in which small capillaries in the lungs can be damaged;
  • brown sputum is characteristic of such formidable diseases as lung cancer and tuberculosis;
  • thick white sputum is typical for SARS, transparent – for asthma, allergies and heart disease.

Of course, it is impossible to make a diagnosis only on the basis of the color of the mucus discharged when coughing, a doctor’s consultation is necessary in any case.

How to cure a long dry cough in a child

Of course, if a child suffers from a prolonged painful dry cough, parents try to alleviate his condition. But not all cough medicines that can be found in a pharmacy are suitable for this. Such funds are divided into two groups:

  • some suppress the cough reflex,
  • others thin the mucus and hasten its separation.

The child is sick

For the treatment of dry cough in a child, drugs from the first group are needed. These funds include:

  • “Sinekod”,
  • “Ambrobene”
  • “Eofinil” and some others.

Many of these types of products are based on plant extracts and come in syrup form to make them easier for children to take.

It is necessary to treat the underlying disease, coughing is only a symptom

Since coughing is only a symptom, it is necessary to begin treatment of the underlying disease. For bacterial infections, the doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics. It is very important not to interrupt antibiotic treatment, even if the symptoms have already disappeared. Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor. For the correct choice of the drug, laboratory tests are carried out and the pathogen is detected. It also takes into account the age of the child, the timing of the last course of antibiotic treatment, general health and much more.

The prolonged dry cough that occurs during the heating season is often associated with low humidity. Pediatricians are advised to purchase a household air humidifier and use it throughout the winter.

To relieve symptoms, inhalations can be carried out using a nebulizer – a device that generates steam. Steam relieves spasms of the muscles of the respiratory tract and moisturizes the mucous membranes.

Treatment of prolonged wet cough in children

Means that suppress the cough reflex, so effective for dry cough, are strictly contraindicated for wet cough. Taking them will cause fluid to accumulate in the airways, causing severe inflammation. If the cough is productive, the body needs help to remove mucus, and expectorants are prescribed for this.

Expectorants for wet coughs

Such drugs thin the sputum, and it is easily excreted. The medicine is often available in the form of sweet syrups so that parents do not have to coax their children into taking the medicine. Expectorants include:

  • “Lazolvan”,
  • “Gerbion”,
  • “Doctor Mom”
  • Althea syrup,
  • mukaltin and many others.

Often such drugs have additional effects – anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

Sick child

Sick child

As with dry cough, steam inhalations with medicines, mineral water or essential oils are indicated.

Plentiful drink dilutes the sputum somewhat with a wet cough and accelerates its separation. This applies to any liquids – from water and fruit drinks to soup and milk.

Treatment of cough in a child with folk remedies

Many folk methods for treating wet cough in children are also approved by modern medicine. This is especially true for treatment with decoctions of herbs. With a wet cough, decoctions of coltsfoot, sage, chamomile and lime blossom are effective.

All of the above is for general information of parents, which is necessary for understanding how to consult a doctor at an appointment at a clinic.

How to treat a cough in a child? – Doctor Komarovsky

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