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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Brenner Children’s pediatric emergency department has moved back to its original location. Learn more

In order to help protect patients, family members and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19, no visitors are allowed at any of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s outpatient or inpatient facilities, except in certain situations.
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More COVID-19 Updates

First Aid: Coughing

First Aid: Coughing

First Aid

Coughing is a healthy reflex that helps clear the airways. A severe or lingering cough requires medical treatment, but many coughs are caused by viruses that just need to run their course.

What to Do

  • If your child develops a "barky" or "croupy" cough, sit in a steamy bathroom together for about 20 minutes.
  • Offer plenty of fluids (breast milk or formula for babies; cool water and juice for older kids). Avoid carbonated or citrus drinks that may irritate a raw throat.
  • Run a cool-mist humidifier in your child's bedroom.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nose drops to relieve congestion.
  • Never give cough drops (a choking hazard) to young kids or cough or cold medicine to kids under 2 years of age (consult a doctor first for older kids).

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • has severe cough spasms or attacks, wheezing, or stridor (an almost-musical sound when inhaling)
  • has a cough that lasts 3 weeks, gets worse, happens the same time every year, or seems caused by something specific (such as pollen, dust, pets, etc.)
  • has a persistent fever
  • is younger than 3 months old and has fever with the cough
  • is breathing fast or working hard to breathe
  • has a blue or dusky color in the lips, face, or tongue during or after coughing

Think Prevention!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014