Child Cough


Q. My child 8 months old had low grade fever with occasional cough since last night. I gave him some baby tylenol and he slept just fine. When he woke up in the morning, he had high grade fever and a persistent dry cough that would worsen when he would lie down. It didn’t let him sleep. Can I give anti allergic or other over the counter cough medication. His fever was 100 degrees Fahrenheit checked in the axilla.


Hello and welcome to AskHealthMD

I appreciate your concern

  • A dry cough that is more intense and frequent when your child is lying down is most likely related to a post-nasal drip. It can be associated with an upper respiratory infection such as sinusitis or pharyngitis.
  • A runny or stuffy nose can give a clue regarding a possible focus of infection.
  • The child’s behavior would be altered and is easily perceived by the mom to not be his usual self. He can be irritable and crying a lot or may refuse his usual feed. This is a subjective but crucial enquiry that must be made.
  • If the answer to the irritability and altered behavior or a general sense of fatigued child with poor sleep is YES, then he must be examined by a pediatrician.
  • If the answer to the above is NO ; meaning the child is behaving normally with these symptoms and his feeding and sleeping patterns are minimally affected then he can be observed for a further 24 hours.
  • Any cough in a child less than 3 months old warrants a checkup. Other red flags associated with cough that necessitate specialist consultation are
  • Difficulty in breathing or is unable to catch in breath with cough in spasms
  • Persistent, unrelenting especially if it interferes with sleep.
  • Productive i.e associated with mucoid secretions / sputum or hemoptysis ( bloody sputum.)
  • Choking or Cyanosis episodes
  • Vomiting
  • For treatment / management , Humidifier with menthol crystals soothes swollen air passages 
  • Honey or tea may help a dry cough.
  • Do not give honey to any child less than 1 year age  as spores of Clostridium botulinum in a baby can cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.
  • Antihistamines are generally avoided in such young infants though if there is a runny nose, allergy history or rhinitis then levocetirizine can be given.
  • For the cough Terbutaline and Guaifenesin combination can be used for symptomatic relief.
  • For fever, cold sponging and paracetamol can be used.
  • The above treatment options and decision on antibiotics use would rest with the pediatrician to assess the clinical condition and advise accordingly.


Wishing you best of health


Please consult your doctor before taking any medication. This article is for information / guideline purposes only.




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