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Coughing in children may be a stand-alone condition or a symptom of other illnesses. In general, childhood coughing is nothing to worry about and usually goes away on its own or with very minimal intervention. Even if your child’s cough sounds awful, keep in mind that coughing is actually a natural and healthy way for the body to dislodge mucus and other debris and can often provide relief.

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Common infections, like a cold or the flu, can cause a cough to come and linger even after other symptoms have subsided. Other causes of coughing in children include:


The treatment for different types of coughs can vary, based on the cause. A cough caused by a respiratory virus needs to run its course which may last for as long as 2 weeks. Most childhood coughs are not serious enough to need medical attention and can be treated with over-the-counter or home remedies (for example, Ibuprofen if over 6 months, or honey, if over 12 months). We do not recommend treating the cough with cough medicine. Cough medicine may temporarily help stop the coughing, but it does not treat the cause of the cough. Cough medicine should not be given to children under 4 years of age and not between 4 and 6 years old unless recommended by your physician.


Contact your doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Struggling to breathe

  • Vomiting repeatedly secondary to coughing

  • Turns red/purple when coughing

  • Drooling

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Coughing blood

  • Chest pain

  • Temperature of over 104° F

  • Cough that is not resolved after 14 days

  • Frequent coughing with activity, laughing or crying (symptoms of asthma)

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Call 911 if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Gasping for breath or cannot talk

  • Choking

  • Passes out

  • Stops breathing

  • Lips or fingernails have turned blue

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