38 answers

Cough That Will Not Go Away

I have an 18 month old who has had a cough for the last 3 weeks! No fever. No signs of being sick. It seems to be worse at night. He has been on 2 different types of decongestants to see if that helps. I know there is a lot of illness going around...I have had Strep and then Bronchitis just in the last 3 weeks. Thankfully he has been healthy through it all and tested for Strep but he is healthy as a horse, except the cough. The coughing is intense at times and he will wake up and cough for 15 to 20 minutes at time. What am I missing? Allergies? Do I need to have my air vents cleaned in our house? Is it the weather? Anyone else having this problem?

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When my son has a bad cough-usually due to some illness-it helps to have a humidifier on at night. I also prop his mattress up at 1 end with a pillow, to keep his head elevated and reduce coughing. If you wanted to try using Vicks on his chest-it is supposed to be great for coughs, and you don't need to give him medication to achieve that result! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Try a cool mist humidifier. Its keeps the air in the room moist, therefore keeping the throat moist. My 18 year old uses hers when she has a cough.

Have they done testing for RSV or whooping cough? My son is 5 Months and is the same way. He had RSV when he was about 2 months and his doc says b/c of that it will seem like he has allergies but its just the rev sticking again...

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When my son has a bad cough-usually due to some illness-it helps to have a humidifier on at night. I also prop his mattress up at 1 end with a pillow, to keep his head elevated and reduce coughing. If you wanted to try using Vicks on his chest-it is supposed to be great for coughs, and you don't need to give him medication to achieve that result! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T. A~ I am a mother of a 3 year old boy and a two year old girl. I would suggest that you talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of your child having asthma. My daughter has asthma and sometimes it is just a constant cough that is worse at night. And... a friend of mine's son has also been diagnosed with asthma and he has never wheezed, not once. He just has a chronic cough. Also, you might try rubbing Vicks Vapor Rub on his feet and covering them with socks at night. It sounds strange, but it really does work. I hope you find your answer! Maybe one of these suggestions might work! ~ K. G

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,
This sounds like an Upper Respiratory Infection to me. I get one every year around this time and the "only" thing that clears it for me is antibiotics.
You may want to get him a prescription and see if it helps. I was recently coughing so bad with no other symptoms and my doctor prescribed a Z-pac that cleared everything up.
He'll most likely get amoxicillin which will work just fine for a URI.
Good luck and hope he feels better soon.

Have they done testing for RSV or whooping cough? My son is 5 Months and is the same way. He had RSV when he was about 2 months and his doc says b/c of that it will seem like he has allergies but its just the rev sticking again...


We had the same problem. After encasing the pillows and mattress the problem went away...literally overnight. Google AllerG (the company we bought ours from) or dust mite solutions for more options. You can buy plastic mattress encasings from Walmart that zip around the mattress and not only protect your child from dust mites and their poo, but also protect the mattress from accidents. For pillows, you will want something more comfortable though than just plastic.

Also, I noticed several metioning cool mist humidifiers...the new gadget is warm mist with some sort of UV light that virtually eliminates germs building up in the water...other perks...I have Vicks, germ free warm mist unit and love how Allyson's (10 months) room is slightly warmer than the rest of our home and with this unit, I can use tap water! No more late night trips to the store to bring home distilled water for the humidifier. It does have a very bright light, but we covered it up with electrical tape.


Both my kids (3 YO and almost 2 YO) have have horrid coughs since mid December. First round was croup (sp?) then the next 2 rounds we were treating with breathing treatments for an asthma like wheezing cough that was more so at night ended up being walking pneumonia. I would deffinetly check these two illnesses out because I know they are really going around right now and our weather has not helped out any.

Good Luck and get well!

My step-son had a cough that wouldn't go away. He also has juvenile diabetes and was in the hospital for another emergency. They got his sugar levels back to normal and released him. They said the cough was nothing to worry about. Two day later, his natural mother took him back to the doctor and they did a chest x-ray and found that he has walkin pneumonia. I'm not trying to alarm you, but it is something to check for when you take him to the peditrician. My step-son had the same symptoms as your little one. Dry hacking cough that gets worse at night.

Hope this helps!

It is allergy time... and when your nose is stuffed up and you breath through your mouth at night, your mouth gets dry and you cough. Try a cool-mist humidifier at night might help. I turn ours on about 30 minutes before bedtime.
Cleaning your air ducts may help. I don't know... but if he is coughing during the day too, you may want to insist on a chest x-ray just to make sure. Our pedi does them if a persistent cough lasts more than four weeks. I don't know what the four weeks was about, I'm not a nurse.
Anyway... we also use Ayr Gel. I put it on a qtip or my finger and make sure my son's nose is moist during the day. Soemtimes cough is from Post nasal drip... which would indicate allergy.
My thoughts are not organized. I'm sorry if this post isn't... but I hope it helps.

I am a nurse and also the mother of a 14 year old son who has allergies and asthma. It is most likely just dry air in your house. Try a cool mist humidifier in the baby's room. This will usually work! It is helpfull to use a cool mist humidifier in everyone's room at night while sleeping. Most of us sleep with our mouth's open and the dry air in your house will dry out your throat often causing a cough that is primarily at night and doesn't have any other symptoms. Just make sure it is cool mist! The air vents in your house should be changed once a month to help prevent allergies.

Unfortunately, your child may have asthma. Both of my girls have it and night time coughing is one of the symptoms. During these episodes, lift his shirt and have him take a deep breath. If his chest sinks in rather than expanding that is another sign. When the bronchial tubes are not getting enough air, it's like he's sucking his chest in.

Hopefully that is not what it is, but not all asthma comes in the form of a sever attack. Luckily my girls rarely have issues with it anymore - only when they are sick which is called reactive airway disease (same as asthma). But they are older - 14 & 19.

Hopy this helps.

NO! We don't have this problem. The air in our home is PURIFIED.

The American College for Allergists states "Half of all illnesses are caused by polluted INDOOR air."

Check my web-site for information on breathable air. Email me a mailing arrdess and I'll send you a packet.

J. G

It could be asthma or Reactive Airway Disease (RAD - basically activity induced asthma). You should have him checked out by the Dr, they will be able to tell. I have one with asthma and one with RAD. Coughing as you described was their first symptoms and now the typical symptom I see when they are having issues. Sounds the same, just induced by two different things.

Definitely get a humidifier going, and ask your doc about allergies. There are different things that work. Claritin, Zyrtec (which is now OTC). If it's just at night, you might be ok with just benadryl. If it's all day, and it's just a dry, hacking cough, your doc can prescribe an antihistamine. Delsym is a great OTC cough suppressant that lasts all night, but you don't ever want to suppress a "productive" cough.

Several of my friends' kids have been on singulair (sp?). It's typically an asthma preventative, but it is said to work well on these allergy-induced coughs.

My son goes through this every now and then -- for him, we've discovered it's seasonal allergies. Right now, Cedar/Elm is high or medium. I called the doctor and asked to try Rx allergy medicine. They requested I try over-the-counter Claritin first -- so we did and it worked like a charm for about 2 months. Then the cough returned. He needed something stronger.
So the doc prescribed Allegra (liquid) and that's helped for a long time now.
Ask your doc if the persistent cough might be due to allergies and if you can try Rx med to treat your son.
Over-the-counter Children's Claritin is definitely worth a try - - but ask your doctor first, either way.

Try the Mucinex in the red bottle(sorry I don't know exacts) but our son is really sick right now and the cough is just one symptom and this is what the doc suggested and it's working well so far. Also, cool mist humidifier helps and baby vicks on the chest. HTH

My 3 year old grandson developed a cough when he was 3 months old after having RSV. He would be put on antibiotics, almost get well, then start up again. Finally,after almost 2 YEARS, and tons of tests and specialists, even testing for Cystic fibrosis, they did a simple sinus x-ray. It was all a severe sinus infection, that would almost clear up, but not completely. The ENT specialist put him on antibiotics for 6 full weeks, x-rayed his sinuses again, said it had not fully cleared up, and put him on the meds for another 6 weeks. This FINALLY cleared him up. He had such a severe infection, that they were just not leaving him on the meds long enough to clear it up completely, so he would almost get well, then if would inflame again. I also had the same problem this past year, coughed for 9 months, finally convinced the Dr. to give me a longer round of antibiotics and it cleared up. Just a thought for you as well! Some say not to give a lot of antibiotics because you build up an immunity, which I think may have been some of his problem because they gave them so often and never long enough, so that finally, when they gave them to him for a long period, it built up enough in his system to fight the infection. Good Luck to you!

Try a cool mist humidifier. Its keeps the air in the room moist, therefore keeping the throat moist. My 18 year old uses hers when she has a cough.

I went through kind of the same situation with my daughter last year. Her pediatrician recommended taking Delsym (a cough suppressant) and Claritin. Whatever it was worked because her cough was gone in a week. Her pediatrician said to use the Delsym to get her to quit coughing because she had inflamed her throat so much it was causing her to continue to cough. I am not sure what the Claritin did, but it worked.

if the cough is worse at night when he is laying flat it could be reflux. Though it would be a little unusual for it to just start becoming a problem at 18 mos. But hey it's worth a try ask your dr. about zantac if it helps it's probably reflux or you can try propping him to sleep like letting him sleep in the swing one night and see if he still coughs as bad.

I have two little ones on nebulizer treatments. Ask you doctor about asthma. My sons have never had an asthma attack, they only cough and cough and cough. Diagnosing asthma in children is new and on the rise due to RSV and pollution.

Our allergies are spiking here in west FW. If it is allergies, your pediatrician will need to prescribe an antihistamine to reduce his reaction to the irritants and a decongestant to help dry it up so infection doesn't set in. Be careful with expectorants (often bundled with decongestants), they can increase the amount of mucas and therefore coughing.
Because you just had bronchitis, I'd be concerned that is just as likely the problem.
Good luck,

After spending HOURS on the internet, I found that giving them high doses of Vitamin C in vitamin form & juice/food does the trick, but since this is not the beginning of the cough, give it a few days to see a change. A doctor on the internet said that it is practically impossible to overdose on Vit. C. My sons have had that pesky cough & it works great!! I have given my 5 year old as much as 2,000 mg a day. (1,000/morning-1,000/night) For an 18 month old, I would start with 500 mg at each meal. Also, my sons are old enough to have "Mucinex" for kids. It comes in bubble gum flavored granules now. You might ask your doctor about this. Next time, at the first sign of the "cough", start increasing the Vit. C & give him the Mucinex.
I hope this helps!
T. C.

My daughter is doing the same thing and she has a current diagnosis of croup. We have put her on breathing treatments every 4 hours, and a cool mist humidifier at night. Good luck it is a rough time

You may want to put some Vicks Vapo Rub on his chest and throat. It will open his chest so he can breath at night. We had the same thing with are littel girl. This was the only thing that helped us.

My daughter has this problem and we finally have gotten it under control. When it first presented itself she was about 18 mo. It was simply drainage from her seasonal allergies that ended up draining down her throat and she didn't know any other way to deal with it other than to cough sometimes over and over until she threw it all up and then it was over. Over the counter Dimetapp cold and allergy elixir works before it gets too bad but it still is not strong enough for the worst times of the seasons, with allergies. The doctor would call in cough syrups and other things and they just didn't work because the cough was not the original problem, the drainage was. Twice, we couldn't get the drainage handled and ended up with an ear infection....not fun! But the doctors told us it was because of the drainage going on for so long. The problem was that she would never cough or have problems when the doctor was with her but finally one day it happened. He had already checked her chest for anything and had said she was clear then later she coughed this awful sounding cough, how she did at home, and he just looked at me puzzled as her cough sounded like she had bronchitis or something. He gave me some chewable Singulair to try and it did wonders! But you have to start it when the symptoms first appear and it never gets bad anymore. It is VERY expensive with our particular health insurance so we just use it as needed. Hope this helped!

My 19 mo old son had the same thing a cough that just would not go away. I finally made him an appointment at the doctor and he had a double ear infection. He never acted like his ears bothered him. The doctor gave him amoxicillin for 10 days. He still coughed the first night but by the second night the cough was gone. Hope this helps.

My daughter who is 2 1/2 has the same problem. We took her to the doctor and they gave us a prescription cough syrup, but I don't think it has helped at all. I am going to go buy Mucenex (sp?) there is also a cough syrup called Rescon (sp) they sell behind the counter. It works really well so I am going to buy that as well.

Hi T.,

My 3 year old has had a cold for 4 weeks now. No fever, no change in appetite, and no behavioral changes. The cough gets worse at night and early morning too. My pediatritian said that alot of kids were holding on to this cough and that it should clear up on its own. It is possible that they had one virus on top of another. The night time cough could be from the post nasal drip that builds in the back of the throat when they lay down.
Coughing is a good thing too. It keeps the phlem moving which prevents build up and infection (like pnemonia).
My son is doing well and the cough is almost gone.
The runny/congested nose ended after 3 weeks, and the cough lessened and is now almost non-exsistant.
If he is not able to sleep, you might ask your pediatritian for a night time cough suppresant like histex . We have used this in the past to allow our boys to rest (works wonders for the coughing fits).
Hang in there, I am sure he will be well soon.

Take Care,

try childrens musinex... helps with allergies AND colds... covers all the bases

My guess would be phlegm is getting caught in the back of his throat - that's why it's worse at night.

I'd use a cool mist humidifier (moistens his nose and weighs down any dust particles that may be in the air), double his fluid intake (to thin the stuff out, make it easier to cough up), and since he is over a year, I'd give him a teaspoon of honey before bed - it's got antibiotic properties, it's study proven to reduce coughs as well as DM - and it's a whole lot easier to get down them.

Good luck.

Have the child checked for a inner inner ear infection, my daughter had a cough that lasted 6 months and they finally found out that she had that inner ear infection.

Have you considered taking your child to an allergist to check for allergies or even asthama?


To stop nighttime coughing in a child (or adult as we found out personally), put Vicks Vaporub generously on the bottom of the feet at bedtime, then cover with socks. Even persistent, heavy, deep coughing will stop in about 5 minutes and stay stopped for many, many hours of relief.

Works 100% of the time and is more effective in children than even very strong prescription cough medicines. In addition it is extremely soothing and comforting and they will sleep soundly.

I heard the head of the Canada Research Council describe these findings on the part of their scientists when they were investigating the effectiveness and usage of prescription cough medicines in children as compared to alternative therapies like accupressure. Just happened to tune in A.M. Radio and picked up this guy talking about why cough medicines in kids often do more harm than good due to the chemical makeup of these strong drugs so, I listened.

It was a surprising finding and found to be more effective than prescribed medicines for children at bedtime, in addition to have a soothing and calming effect on sick children who then went on to sleep soundly.

Lolly tried it on herself when she had a very deep constant and persistent cough a few weeks ago and it worked 100%! She said that it felt like a warm blanket had enveloped her, coughing stopped in a few minutes and believe me, this was a deep, ( incredibly annoying!) every few seconds uncontrollable cough, and she slept cough-free for hours every night that she used it.


Have you tried using a cool mist humidifier in his room at night? Sometimes the dry air can intensify a cough, especially at night. Also, he could have post nasal drip that is irritating his lungs. My daugther has that problem due to some seasonal nasal allergies and her pedi recently prescribed an oral med called Pediox-S and it seems to be helping so far. I'd take him in just to make sure there's nothing else going on and to see if he might benefit from an allergy medication.

My daughter had the same thing beginning in September and she was still coughing in December. My pediatrician just kept saying she was catching colds and viruses and that possibly she had some allergies.

I went to an allergy/asthma doctor and after testing and trying some other medications to control the cough, he finally had a chest x-ray done and there as an abornality. Nothing big like scary pneumonia but possibly a clogged mucous plug or the beginning of pneumonia. Anything he treated her for pneumonia with an antibiotic twice a day for 2 weeks and then a follow up x-ray. She was clear and no more coughing in at least 3 weeks.

After the allergy testing came back showing no allergies, we assumed it was asthma but the medication he was giving for asthma was not clearing it up. It was helping but not making her completely better.

All that to say, if it keeps going on, you might consider going to a specialist and getting some testing done. I wish I hadn't waited so long because my daughter was miserable for 4 months. And she had no other symptoms, just a cough that was bad during the day but got even worse at night.

I wish you the best.

It may be that your son has developed an alergy to your dog. I know that is not what you want to hear,but sometimes it takes a while for an alergy to develope. During the day your son is active and there is less chance for the dander from your dog to stay within breathing room, at night while he is perfectly still the dander can be breathed in at a more regular pace. Check with your doctor to find out if there is an alergy med that can help your son and still be able to keep your wonderful dog. A.

I recently tried a new cough syrup since none of the regular ones seemed to work. It is called Delsym; can be bought at Wal-mart. I don't know the dosage for an 18 month old, but within 24 hours there was a major difference in my 13 yr old.
C. G

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