Cough - Irritated airways

Published on 04 June 2010

It may also be due to allergies like asthma or allergic rhinitis.The symptoms may last for up to a week before it clears completely. The younger the child, the longer it may take for symptoms to clear completely


  • Dry irritating non-productive (without phlegm) cough due to throat infection or sometimes post- nasal drip (dripping of accumulated mucous from the back of the nose into the throat)
  • Productive cough (with phlegm), sometimes associated with vomiting
  • Coughing at night

What you can do 

  • Giving the child lots of water is very important
  • Monitor the temperature as fever may sometimes develop
  • Turn off the air-conditioning, and use the fan instead
  • Prop up the child if there is runny nose to reduce post-nasal drip that causes coughing and restless sleep at night
  • Do not suppress cough unnecessarily as cough helps protect the lungs
  • Only children six months and above can be given some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs from the local pharmacy
  • Do not suppress cough unnecessarily as cough helps get rid of mucous, thus protecting the lungs
  • Observe for comfort - as long as the child is feeding and sleeping well, there is no necessity to bring your child to see the doctor immediately

Seek medical help 

  • Loss of appetite to the point of refusing fluids
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Persistent irritability
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Persistent crying
  • Sore throat
  • Ear ache
  • Toothache
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swollen glands
  • Dehydration
  • Coughing up green or yellow mucus for more than seven days
  • On and off fever of more than 39°C for 24 hours


Article by Dr Ong Eng Keow and extracted from ?Guide to Childhood Medical Conditions?, available at 
Thomson Medical Centre


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