Chronic Cough in Children
Dr Aditi Sinha MRCPCH MBChB BSc (Hons) ST4 Paediatric Trainee
Introduction Cough is an important normal protective reflex mechanism involved in primary pulmonary defense.
It enhances clearance of secretions and protects against aspiration. Prolonged or recurrent cough however can become a significant clinical problem for a large number of children.
Coughing may affect 30% of children at any given time(1) and can be further subdivided depending on the duration of the cough symptom (see table 1). Most occur in healthy children and are secondary to acute respiratory tract infections, which usually resolve in 1-3 weeks.
Some children however may have serious underlying disease, which need to be identified by ensuring a thorough history and examination is undertaken, coupled with appropriate investigations.
Furthermore, chronic cough can significantly impact on quality of life of both the child and family. It can affect the child’s sleep and school attendance as well as cause significant parental anxiety and distress(1).