Child with Cough That Wont Go Away!

Updated on July 23, 2012
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
19 answers

My 8 year old has had a cough for about 2-3 months now. It is not (and never was) a "sick" sounding cough and didn't follow a cold or other illness. It seems to be coming from the throat and not the lungs and reminds me of an old man's hacking in the morning. Every once in awhile the cough will be deeper and he will cough up a bit of mucus which is always clear or slightly milk and kind of just looks like thick spit. His nose sounds slightly stuffy in the morning as well, but not enough to blow out, and he says he does not feel sick. When I ask him about the cough he says that there is a weird feeling in his throat and that he is coughing to get rid of the weird feeling. I have tried giving him claritin to see if it was an allergy from something in the air but it did nothing. Various factors seem to do nothing to make the cough either better or worse, such as being inside or outside, being away from our home (we have recently taken 2 different 6-day vacations and he coughed there also), evening or morning etc. It is not worse during activity and in fact if anything it is the other way around because it seems to be worse in the mornings when he is just laying around. No fever or other symptoms. I feel like if I take him to the Dr they are either going to prescribe antibiotics or albuterol and send me on my way but I really do not think this is asthma. He does have a history of eczema and there are multiple allergies in his grandparents but none in my husband or myself. The only thing in his environment that has changed is that right when this all started we pulled up all of our carpet and tile and put down laminate flooring. There was an incredible amount of dust in the air during those couple of weeks and even though I have since dusted the house several times I can't help but wonder if there is a connection. Anyone have any experience with something like this?

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answers from Chicago on

There might be stuff in his lungs from the carpet pull up - he may need some asthma meds for a short time, it could be a variant of asthma, as the previous poster mentioned. That is a simmilar type as to my MIL's and it gets REALLY bad if left ignored.

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answers from Boca Raton on

My son had a cough for 5 months. Medicine wasn't doing anything for it... Brought him to the ENT and he has really big tonsils and huge adenoids covered in mucus.. The post nasal drip was not helping. He also had a lot of fluid in his middle ear that wasn't draining properly.
I had tubes put in his ears, adenoids/tonsils taken out and haven't had one issue since!

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answers from Columbus on

My husband has cough variant asthma when he gets around too much dust or pet dander (which defines our house...). That sounds similar.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Aluterol has other outcomes than treating asthma. I use it when I am coughing to help open the airways so the goo can get up.

I use a nebulizer, not an inhaler, the vials that go into the nebulizer are med mixed with sterile water. The water helps the goo become more liquid and easier to get up too.

I would go to the right kind of doc so that I would be sure he didn't have something stuck in his lungs that he had accidentally breathed in.

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answers from Omaha on

A couple of things come to mind that I have had similar symptoms and this is what I was diagnosed with:
I had that hacky, dry cough and it was more of a tickle that I was trying to clear out of my throat. I went to the doctor thinking it was allergy or bronchial related and it was acid reflux of all things. My doctor prescribed Omeperazole (which is also available over the counter) and it cleared up literally within days. If he is noticing this problem mostly at night it could very well be the problem.

Several months after this diagnosis, I started to get this similar cough again, so I started taking the Omperazole on a daily basis again. It didn't help. I had just started a fitness bootcamp and my doctor said it was exercise-induced asthma. She gave me an albuterol inhaler to take as needed and thirty minutes prior to any exercise. It took care of the problem and I rarely have to use the inhaler, but have it on hand just in case.

At any rate, I would take your son to the doctor and have it checked out. If the cough hasn't gone away it most likely needs to be treated with some meds. I hope he feels better soon!!

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answers from Dover on

Sounds like some kind of allergy and simply going in or out of the house/exposed to it or not, he probably isn't away from it long enough to stop it. Clariton takes time to work and doesn't work for everyone. The cough you described sounds a lot like my daughter and I when are allergies weren't treated. Talk to your doctor as there are other treatments available and some do not require a Rx...Zyrtec, Allegra (or the generics of them).

Another option would be to consider the household products you use...soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, cleaning products, detergents. Even if you child does not come into direct contact with these things (like the cleaners) he is exposed to it through inhallation and absorption. Most clothing detergents take repetitive rinses (like 10 x) before all traces of some chemicals are gone.

My sister is allergic to flormaldahyde (spelling?) and Dad had to remove all the paneling from our home and drywall it when we were young.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Since you're tried Claritin which didn't help, it's been going on for months and he has a weird feeling you really should take him to the doctor. It could be an asthma as Veronica suggested, and if there are allergies in the family, even if they bypassed you and your husband, they can be present in your child. I didn't have asthma as a child, my daughter presented when she was a young child, I developed it in my 40's.

Even if they prescribe something and send you on your way you have to realize it is up to you to get back to them if an Rx doesn't work, so they can try something else, order some tests, etc. A lot of medicine IS trial and error, but we as parents are the primary members of our children's care team, working with doctors and medical personnel to provide the best care for them, questioning and insisting if need be until a correct diagnosis is determined.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son's asthma is a persistant cough. Not really any wheezing. If you have an inhaler for him already, try giving it to him and see if it helps.

When my son was diagnosed with asthma, we thought it was a sinus infection that was heading for broncitis. We went to the regular dr. 3 times. The cough kept getting worse, more frequent, and the OTC allergy meds did nothing.

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answers from Honolulu on

Sounds like Post-Nasal drip, from the nose.
Then the person "coughs" because the nasal secretions/mucus goes down the throat, and then it accumulates, and causes the "gag reflex" to trigger. Hence, coughing.
And when laying down, the mucus drips from the post-nasal drip... accumulates in the throat. Hence triggering the gag-reflex/coughing.
Hence that icky feeling there. Because the mucus is accumulating in the throat.

And sometimes, the mucus from the throat will go into the chest. So the cough sounds "deeper."

Coughing, originates from:
1) the sinuses (post nasal drip) or,
2) the chest
3) or both

There are nasal drops. ie: "Little Noses" nasal decongestant for kids. Gotten from any drugstore. It helps a lot.
Claritin etc., is an antihistamine. THUS, it may not target the "nose" per say. Thus, it may not work, for nose issues.
Thus, use a NOSE decongestant. Because THAT, will target the nose and its stuffiness and mucus.

Keep in mind, that some people just have sensitive noses to dust or anything in the air. And things in the air, cannot be completely gotten rid of. Also keep in mind... that "dusting" AND vacuuming... kicks up a LOT OF DUST, while it is going on. You cannot "see" all this dust being kicked up... but it saturates the air, while it is being done. My Mom's Allergist, told her this. He told her, DO NOT BE in the vicinity, while vacuuming is going on. Not for an hour afterwards etc. Because, the "air quality" of the air after dusting/vacuuming, will be full of dust. Until it settles down. Atmospherically.

I have sensitivity to air dust, not "allergic" per say, but since I was a child I was like that. Now as an adult, I take Claritin or saline nose drops or even my prescription "Nasonex" if I need to. BUT only if I need to. Because most of the time, it is not severe enough for me, to have to use it every darn day.

THEN, what is the air quality in your area or weather? Is it smoggy? Dry? That can affect some people.
Get an air filter or purifier, for your home.

Inhalers, like Albuterol, are bronchodilators. It targets the lungs. NOT the nose. It also does NOT target, "mucus." What it does is: it opens up the lung's airways... because it is inflamed and thus constricted. Hence per Asthma, it makes a person unable to breathe. I know this because, I have had Asthma since I was a child.

Is your son, able to, or knows how to... SPIT out his mucus???? If not, teach him how. Then that will also help, to expel the mucus that is accumulating in this throat.

What has the Doctor said? Did you take him to the Doctor?
Has he had antibiotics?
Maybe he was sick but you didn't know it?

When you pulled up the carpet/tile and put down laminate flooring... there are fumes that gas off too. From the materials and glue etc. And yep, dust. AND keep in mind, that even if you "dust" the house... microscopic "dust" can even saturate the..... sofa fabrics, any fabrics, too. Including, clothing. And you can't see it. Did you vacuum... the sofas? Chairs? Drapery? That can be a repository of "dust" too.
AND depending on "how" you dust the home.... the dust can simply be flown off to some other surface. And the dust is not actually, gone. Just relocated.
Use microfiber dust cloths, that the dust will adhere to. Not just a feather duster, because those just fling the dust off to other places, and even to the floor. It does not go away, just because you "dusted."

Again, try getting an air purifier or filter, for your home and for his bedroom. Keeping it in a room where your son hangs out most of the time.

Also: does your son have Eczema? Eczema is an "inflammation." And it can sometimes, cause coughing.

Or if anything, have him allergy tested or see an ENT.

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answers from New York on

Coughing asthma. See pediatric pulmonologist.

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answers from Norfolk on

I once had a feeling there was something stuck in my throat.
I coughed and swallowed and could not get rid of it.
Finally I went to my doctor and it turned out I had acid reflux.
My esophagus was irritated down near my stomach entrance but I was feeling the irritation up in my throat.
A few weeks on Prilosec cured it right up.
You are not going to get to the bottom of it by ignoring it.
Go have it checked out.

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answers from Minneapolis on

i have not read all your answers, but i would say allergies. I had a cough for a couple months also, and when i asked my dr about it she said probably just allergies. if it gets worse or is really bothering him take him in.



answers from New York on

Just saw on the national news that Whooping Cough is spreading in many states even though kids were vaccinated (vaccine was changed because of complains in 1990s because of a rash or fever kids got---so new one not "up to par" :(...) The cough is called the "cough of 100 days" other symptoms just a nagging cough and sometimes the child can gasp for air when in the middle of a coughing fit. The test is a simple swab of the throat. Ask your doctor (if you don't know) if there is an outbreak in your area.

NYC local doctors had a seminar and are freaking out because most of the "victims" weren't vaccinated at all (SMH) by parents or they are immigrants who never got a vaccination :(



answers from Springfield on

Sounds just like me until I realized I had acid reflux. I went to my doctor and has prescribed Previcid, then later Nexium (insurance company preferred it). When I was pregnant with my oldest, my doctor switched me to Pepcid. I've been on it ever since.

I take 40 mg of Pepcid every morning. Completely does the trick, and believe me, I know when I've forgotten to take it.

I didn't



answers from Portland on

Do you use air conditioning?
I notice that when we use the A/C, my sinuses dry out and it takes a hot shower and a few glasses of water to get rid of the excess mucus that dried out due to the lack of moisture in the air overnight.

Have him take a shower, if you can, in the morning, or run the shower and have him sit in the steam. Swimming can help.

If you have a humidifier, try using that for a while. Air purifier/filter? Try that too.

Also, we use Claritin with our son (5--Both he and my husband have allergies..). It took about a week or so for it to work, so you won't see immediate results, from my experience. My husband has that throat-clearing cough too...


answers from Minneapolis on

I developed situational Asthma from my roomates smoking. I didnt have allergies, or breathing problems before. I was a light smoker at the time and when I found a room and board situation after my divorce. I saw the opportunity to catch up and save money. So I moved in. I didnt think the smoking would bother me. However, once her boyfriend moved in and all the friends that came with, they all chain smoked. If all were over for more than a hour it was cloudy. So I started coughing a dry, hacky cough. Would not go away for months. When I realized I was pregnant I knew I had to get out of there, that was in no way a healthy home. I moved in with my now husband, and I thought that would have gotten rid of it, but it persisted. So they put me on Advair and an inhaler for a week and sure enough it went right away. Never has come back and after a week or two no problems. I could quit the meds.



answers from Seattle on

Could be a number of things... All worth checking out:

- Sinus Infection... Post nasal drip ((Living here I have a mild sinus infection most of the year, and major ones for about 6 months. Nothing to be done... It's just all the mold in the air. So when it gets bad I take Pseudoephedrine Hcl (real sudafed, not the PE crappola). So they really WILL go on for months and even years. If I get out of the PNW it's clear in 24/48 hours. About 2/3s of people around here have ongoing sinus infections... Per my doc. They just reestablish. HOWEVER in most places, a round of antibiotics or antifungals will clear them up in a week.))

- Reflux

- Asthma ... (asthma isn't always 'classic'. There are different types. Constant long term coughing is one sign. For those with certain types exercise CLEARS the lungs, because of the increased adrenaline. My son has had a dry cough for a week or two. Said the SAME thing as yours... "There's something stuck in my throat." He KNOWS what his breathing issues feel like, was regularly using both his inhalers, and coughing had never been one of his symptoms ... AND his bullied oxygen levels were good... so I didn't think to do a chest listen for a couple days. Yep. Wheezing (sounds like squeaks and popping when they exhale). The cough was his body trying to expel the air gradually getting trapped. That meant steroids and extra (doc supervised levels for my pulm kid) albuterol. Doh! Okay new thing about his lungs learned AGAIN. Sigh.

- Bone in throat (more common than ya'd think)

- Other irritant

- Bronchitis

- Allergic reaction... Some histamine responses make your throat itch (and swell shut). Try a 'stronger' antihistamine (like Benedryl) and see if it nixes

- etc.



answers from Kansas City on

My son had a problem with a cough last spring. We finally took him to an allergist and yes he has allergies, but the cough was due to a rather bad sinus infection. He really did not have a whole lot of nasal symptoms, but after a round of antibiotics to kick that infection the cough was gone for good.




answers from Detroit on

I would still take him to the pediatrician - could be mild asthma or allergies, a reaction to carpet being pulled up and stuff being brought up and something like an antihistamine (like Claratin) may not be sufficient. My daughter had a similar issue most of the winter and into spring - talked to her pediatrician about it and he prescribed Flonase. Something like that, or Nasonex, might be helpful.

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