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5 Common Causes of Cough in Children

5 Common Causes of Cough in Children

From allergies, aspiration to a tendency, there are many reasons cough in kids.

Hearing your kids coughing for hours must have made you uneasy, although the cough is a critical reflex action to promote clearing of the upper airways.

Cough is caused by many things—from a lung or sinus infection to accidentally inhaled objects like food or a toy. While most coughs are likely to go away on their own, see your pediatrician if the coughing lasts more than 2-3 weeks.

Here we will walk through the common causes of cough in kids.

Allergies and Sinusitis:

Allergies and sinusitis are considered the most common causes of cough in kids. Kids with allergic rhinitis sneeze more often and they are likely to have clear mucus drainage from the nose as well as itchy eyes. Chronic sinusitis lasts 12 weeks and causes pain or pressure in the face with thick, yellow-green nasal drainage.

Both conditions cause post-nasal drip. The secretions that go back to the throat as the kids change position can lead to a cough. That’s why many parents report that their kid’s cough gets worse as they lie down at night.


Coughing that happens while taking food or water—especially if the kid has been the patient of recurrent pneumonia—could be a symptom of aspiration. This condition takes place when food or liquids go down the level of the vocal cords and into the lungs. Aspiration can also be caused due to vocal cord paralysis, or other neurologic conditions that lead to decreased sensation in the airway.

Acid reflux:

Although acid reflux is linked with stomach aches, vomiting, and heartburn, it can lead to chronic cough in kids. However, acid reflux doesn’t directly cause chronic cough on its own. It can worsen cough in patients having an underlying respiratory health condition.

Stomach acids work to digest food and are not supposed to move upward from the stomach into the esophagus (the route that linked the throat to the stomach). It can lead to cough reflex if it takes place. Reflux-related cough is generally a dry cough that occurs more in the daytime when a kid is likely to be in an upright position. It takes place after eating, talking, singing or laughing. Doctors advise avoiding certain foods like citrus juices, caffeine, tomatoes and carbonated drinks which can lead to acid reflux.

Blockage in the Airway or Habit Cough:

Cough also occurs when something stuck in the airway. After a chocking incident, there is an asymptomatic period that can last up to a couple of weeks before the occurrence of pneumonia. Needless to say that you should see a doctor is such scenario.

Sometimes, the nature of a cough is habitual. For example, some patients are likely to cough even after their condition or “cause” is treated. Such type of cough is typically honking in nature. If the person is busy or their mind is preoccupied, they are less likely to cough. For example, they won’t cough once they have fallen asleep.


Some medications can cause coughing, although this is often rate. For example, ACE inhibitors being used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions can lead to coughing. Two of the more common types are Zestril and Vasotec. The coughing goes on its own once the medication is stopped.

When to See a Doctor?

Cough due to allergy or bacteria will clear up within two weeks. If a cough hasn’t improved in this amount of time or it is due to the other reasons, make sure to see a pediatrician, as it may be a sign of some critical medical problem. Especially, if a cough is developed with symptoms like fever, chest pain, headaches, drowsiness, and confusion. Coughing up blood or trouble in breathing needs immediate medical attention.

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