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Help! My Child Has a Cough that Won't Quit

Help! My Child Has a Cough that Won't Quit

It’s not unusual for children to get sick multiple times per year; it’s how they build their immune systems. Children are prone to all kinds of illnesses, from pink eye and stomach bugs to the common cold and flu. However, if your child’s cough doesn’t subside after two weeks, a sick-child visit might be necessary to find out why. 

Dr. Amit Reenu Paliwal manages comprehensive care for pediatric patients at Indus Healthcare at our three offices: Pomona, West Covina, and Montclair, California. He can examine your little one and tell you if their cough is a sign of a more serious issue.

A cough can be a symptom of many different ailments 

Coughing is the most common and obvious sign of illness, and it can also be the most long-lasting. Even after a cold or flu has subsided, a child may keep coughing in the weeks following. Sometimes, children continue to cough even though nothing is wrong, simply clearing their throats or scratching an itch out of habit. 

In most cases, this isn’t something to be concerned about, but if your child’s cough becomes severe or chronic, it should be taken seriously. Irritants like smoke from cigarettes or the fireplace can also cause children to cough, especially if there isn’t proper ventilation. This is why it’s recommended that you never smoke while sharing a room or car with a child. 

If there are no environmental causes for your child’s cough, they likely have an illness. This can range from the common cold to the flu or even COVID-19. However, a persistent cough that just won’t quit is likely to be caused by one of these culprits. 

Reasons for persistent cough

Children often don’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to express what’s wrong, so it’s important that you pay close attention to their symptoms. The details of your child’s cough can help with diagnosis, so try to note down when the cough started, how bad it became, and whether it sounded wet or dry

Viruses, allergies, and asthma complications

Coughs related to a virus should run their course within a week or so. Viral infections often leave behind a persistent cough that’s hard to shake, but as long as your child isn’t running an ongoing fever or showing other symptoms, this should pass. Coughing caused by allergies or asthma can be treated with antihistamines and inhalers. respectively.

Strep throat

Strep throat is caused by a bacterium called streptococcus A, and it’s a fairly common childhood ailment since it’s very contagious and spreads quickly in childcare centers and schools. Children with strep have a persistent cough plus other symptoms that can include:

If you suspect your child has strep throat, bring them in immediately for a strep test. If your child has strep, Dr. Paliwal can prescribe antibiotics designed to fight the specific bacterium, and will instruct you to keep your child home for a time to avoid spreading the infection.


A high-pitched “barking” cough can indicate croup, especially if the fits are intense enough to rouse your child in the night. The swelling of their upper airway can make it difficult to breathe, causing stridor, or noisy, whistling breathing. If this inflammation becomes severe, steroids may be necessary to ease their breathing. 

Whooping cough

If your child is experiencing back-to-back coughs and “whooping” inhales in between, they may have pertussis, or whooping cough. In this case, they might require antibiotics. In severe cases, breathing treatments can help loosen mucus stuck in the lungs. This can be a dangerous illness for very young children.

Respiratory infections

However, if your child has a high fever, quick breathing, and a deep, chesty cough, this might be a sign of pneumonia, or a lower respiratory infection. Approximately one-third of cases involving pediatric pneumonia lead to hospitalization. Untreated, these types of infections can quickly become fatal. 

During a sick-child visit for a persistent cough, the team at Indus Healthcare evaluates your child’s condition, takes swabs for testing, and recommends medications and home remedies to keep your child feeling more comfortable. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Paliwal, call the location closest to you, or fill out the contact form

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