Some Causes of CoughJune 1, 2016

A sign of a serious condition?

Do you or your child wake up coughing, or have a prolonged cough lasting for weeks? Parents should recognize that this is something potentially serious requiring medical attention, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Cough is the most common respiratory symptom for which patients seek medical attention. Cough protects the body by removing mucus and irritating particles from the respiratory tract. Coughing is a useful function and does not always mean there is a problem with your child. However, coughing at night, after going to sleep indicates the need for medical attention.

Cough is a symptom with a variety of causes including:

  • Viral upper respiratory tract infections
  • Asthma
  • Nasal and sinus disease
  • Stomach and esophageal problems such as GERD
  • An inhaled foreign body
  • Habit
  • Environmental irritants

The good news is that relief is possible for almost all patients with the help of a knowledgeable expert, such as an allergist/immunologist. This requires a thorough patient history, physical examination and in some cases selected testing.

When to see an allergy/asthma specialist
The AAAAI’s Referral Guidelines provide information to assist patients and health care professionals in determining when a patient may need consultation or ongoing specialty care by the allergist/immunologist. Patients should see an allergist/immunologist if they:

  • Have a cough that lasts 3-8 weeks or more
  • Have a cough that coexists with asthma
  • Have coexisting chronic cough and nasal symptoms
  • Have a chronic cough and tobacco use or exposure
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