Acute Cough: After Your Child's Visit
Your Care Instructions
A cough is the body's way of keeping the lungs clear. A cough can
be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). An acute cough lasts less than 3
A cough is not a disease but is a symptom of a health problem. An
acute cough is often caused by a cold or other upper respiratory tract illness.
There are different types of coughs:
- A productive cough brings up
mucus from the lungs.
- A nonproductive cough is a
dry cough that does not bring up mucus. Your child may get a dry, hacking
cough after a cold or after being exposed to dust or smoke.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all
appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also
a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines
your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- If your doctor prescribes
medicine, have your child take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor
if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
- Be careful with cough and
cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children, so check the
label first. If you do give these medicines to a child, always follow the
directions about how much to give based on the child's age and weight.
- Be careful when giving your
child over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and Tylenol at the same time.
Many of these medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Read the
labels to make sure that you are not giving your child more than the
recommended dose. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
- Fluids may help soothe your
child's throat. Honey in hot water, tea, or lemon juice helps a dry,
hacking, cough. Do not give honey to children younger than 1 year of
age. It may contain bacteria that are harmful to babies.
- Prop up your child's head
with extra pillows at night to ease a dry cough.
- Keep your child away from
smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For
example, call if:
- Your child has severe
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has new or
increased shortness of breath.
- Your child has a new or
- Your child has new symptoms,
such as coughing up blood.
- Your child feels much worse.
- Your child appears sick.
- Your child has coughing
spells and can't stop.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to
contact your doctor if your child is not getting better as expected.
adapted under license by Slm. This care instruction is for use with your
licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical
condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional.
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