What Can Cause My Child’s Chronic Cough

Child coughing at the Newport Children's doctor's visit to find a diagnosis for her chronic cough

Most children experience temporary bouts of coughing at one time or another. However, coughing can become worrisome (especially to parents) when it lasts for weeks or months. In most cases, coughs result from an upper respiratory infection (bacterial or viral). 

In that case, it’s typically best to seek the help of a pediatric pulmonology specialist as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, a chronic cough could be a symptom of an underlying condition. 

Continue reading to learn more about potential causes of chronic coughing in children. 

The Cause of Chronic Coughing in Children 

In many cases, prolonged coughing in children results from protracted bacterial bronchitis. Protracted bacterial bronchitis is “phlegmy” and persistent (more than one month) without co-occurring symptoms. Children with this condition experience increased mucus production, resulting in chronic coughing. 

Further, many other children experience chronic coughing due to pertussis (also “whooping cough”). Whooping cough can result in violent and difficult to control coughing spells that can leave children drained, with a sore throat, and sometimes, tears in their eyes. 

Additional reasons for chronic cough in children can include, but  are not limited to: 

  • Asthma 
  • Sinusitis 
  • Allergies 
  • A significant lung disease
  • Irregularities within a child’s congenital airway
  • Abnormalities within the gastrointestinal tract
  • Second-hand smoke 

If your child is suffering from chronic cough, you should schedule an appointment with a pediatric pulmonology specialist as soon as possible. The faster the causes of chronic cough unravel, the quicker your child can receive treatment and begin healing. 

Continue reading to learn how an appointment with a pulmonologist can help identify the causes of and alleviate chronic cough in children. 

How Can A Pediatric Pulmonology Specialist Help?

A pediatric pulmonology specialist can assess and diagnose conditions that cause a chronic cough in your child. The pediatrics team at Newport Children’s Medical Group will conduct specific medical exams to pinpoint the root causes of their cough, including: 

  • Respiratory exams 
  • Taking a sputum culture 
  • Testing your child’s lung function 
  • X-rays 
  • Test for bacterial and viral infections 
  • And more. 

Further, if the cause of chronic cough involves additional medical practices, we can make the proper referrals at the right time. Learn more about typical diagnostic tests for chronic cough in children below. 

Respiratory Exams and Sputum Culture 

A respiratory exam typically begins with your child’s pediatric pulmonology specialist reviewing their medical history, discussing previous infections, and assessing noticeable signs of respiratory issues. 

Our pediatric team carefully observes your child’s lung movements and breathing patterns with a stethoscope. They may also conduct a brief test on your child’s lungs to assess if there are specific issues with some or all of your child’s lungs. 

In some cases, a sputum sample (i.e., mucus) is necessary to assess the presence of bacterial infections. In case our pulmonology specialist finds bacteria, they will prescribe bacteria-specific treatment. 

Lung Function Tests

Recognizing the causes of chronic cough sometimes requires several lung function tests. Generally, a child who is five years or older can go through lung function tests.

Depending on the circumstances, our pediatricians may use the following lung tests, labs tests, and diagnostic tools, but not limited to: 

  • Spirometry
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Exercise challenge 
  • Impulse oscillometry
  • Spirometry
  • Rhinoscopy

X-ray and CT-Scan

An x-ray of your child’s sinuses may reveal more serious medical conditions like lung cancer, pneumonia, and other significant lung ailments. Further, a computerized tomography (CT) scan can be helpful to check for additional medical conditions that have resulted in chronic cough in a child. 

Treatments For Chronic Chough in Children

Before your pediatric pulmonology doctor can recommend treatment, they need to know the cause of your child’s chronic cough. In some cases, medications used to treat chronic cough in children include: 

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Asthma controllers 
  • Antibiotics 
  • Acid blockers (if chronic cough is from acid reflux
  • Cough suppressants 

Severe cases may require surgery and more significant medical intervention. 

Contact Newport Children’s Medical Group Today

Is your child suffering from a chronic cough? If so, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a pediatric pulmonology physician. 

The pediatrics team at Newport Children’s Medical Group dedicates themselves to helping you and your child identify the root cause of chronic cough and develop a treatment plan that can resolve the issue. 

Schedule an appointment with our pediatric pulmonology specialist today to discuss your child’s condition and start their road to recovery.