Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Cough Symptoms in Children
A cough that is more noticeable when your child is lying down is
usually caused by mucus running down the back of the throat (postnasal 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
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
A cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks is usually a sign of an
reflux. But it may mean a more serious
problem. A visit to your child's doctor is needed when a cough is
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.