Cristan Cabanilla, M.D., a pulmonary pediatrician at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, explains that “Coughing releases and expels the irritants and secretion of the respiratory system.”
It can be an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, or smoke, or an indication of more serious viral infections such as laryngitis or bronchitis, or bacterial infections such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. A sudden change in the weather or the different activities during the season may trigger coughing.
1. Dry Cough This kind feels very dry, usually accompanied by loud, harsh breathing, producing no phlegm.
Common cause Sometimes called a post-viral cough, it is commonly triggered by the inflammation of some parts of the throat. It can be caused by allergic reactions and temperature changes, or the result of a recent virus, head cold, or influenza.
2. Croup Dry hacking cough is a common symptom of croup, mostly affecting babies over 6 months of age and children under 6 years during very cold weather. This is the kind that produces phlegm or mucus, due to infection and inflammation. Cold, cough, and low-grade temperature are the first signs of croup.
Common cause It is a post-viral infection that may extend from the vocal cords or larynx to the trachea and bronchi. Shyrine Suarez, R.N., school nurse at the Community of Learners School for Children in Quezon City, says croup is caused by a viral respiratory infection and is contagious. Influenza and measles are the common culprits.
3. Whooping Cough This cough attack is characterized by frequent coughing spells and a “whooping” sound in breathing. Early symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, and mild fever. Doctors also refer to it as pertussis, an illness of the respiratory tract. It is severe and contagious, but there is a vaccine for infants (DTP: diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis) that may help prevent this. In infants, the scariest part may be when they appear to stop breathing while coughing. Some may even turn blue.
Common cause It is highly contagious especially during the first two weeks, and may even be airborne if the infected person coughs or sneezes without covering his mouth.
4. Cough with fever Cough with mild fever and runny nose is usually a symptom of a common cold. But if your child has a high body temperature, is coughing nonstop, and not breathing normally, it may be a symptom of a more serious ailment like a tuberculosis infection or bronchitis.
Common cause Fever signals infection, says Suarez. Bronchitis is a viral illness that usually begins as an upper respiratory infection with runny nose and cough, and grows increasingly worse in three to four days. When the cough develops from dry to productive (with phlegm) with low-grade fever, bronchitis is suspected.
Tuberculosis infection may also be suspected if your child also has night sweats and has been losing weight. This kind of bacterial infection is highly contagious and may develop to tuberculosis, if not treated early on.
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Cristan Cabanilla, M.D., pulmonary pediatrician, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City and World City Medical Center, Aurora Blvd., Quezon City Shyrine Suarez, R.N., school nurse, Community of Learners School for Children, New Manila, Quezon City Website: kidshealth.org