Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z Symptom: Cough

Coughing is a protective reflex that usually is a sign of irritation somewhere in the respiratory tract. Coughing itself is a symptom, not a disease or condition, and it can help clear blockages in the airway.

More to Know

Causes

Common respiratory tract irritations that can cause coughing include inflammation from infections, allergies and asthma, sinusitis and postnasal drip, and irritating chemicals. A common but often unrecognized cause of chronic cough is gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which is when stomach acid moves backward (refluxes) into the respiratory tract.

Chronic cough also happens with a wide range of other medical conditions that can irritate or affect the lungs or upper airway.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. Most coughs that are due to a common viral infection, such as a cold, only need home care (lots of fluids and other comfort measures). Cough suppressants are not recommended for kids.

Some infections, though, do require medical evaluation and treatment, such as bacterial infections, allergies, inhaled objects, or stomach acid reflux. Someone with a cough caused by an infection should not be around others until any fever is gone and the person is no longer considered contagious.

Keep in Mind

Coughing usually is not harmful in itself. But it can be upsetting, especially when there are other symptoms, and can disrupt activities and sleep. Intense or prolonged coughing may indicate a serious or ongoing problem, such as an inhaled object or other medical issue that needs prompt medical attention. Call your doctor if you have concerns.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts
Date Reviewed: 00-00-0000

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.