Crack the code behind that annoying cough

Decoding 4 common coughs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the middle of the night, when a relentless cough is keeping your child from falling asleep, pay close attention.

Doctor Randolph Thornton with Jacksonville Pediatrics in Riverside says that cough may be sending warning signs and you need to listen up.

A Dry/Wet Cough

Dry coughs can mean a variety of things ranging from asthma and exposure to irritants like smoke. A wet cough is common with allergies and bronchitis. 

Barking Cough

What if your child's cough sound more like a bark?

"The croupy cough which younger kids get, it has the classic barking seal sound," said Dr. Thornton. 

It's the telltale sound of croup and is caused by a viral infection that's common in children. There are no antibiotics to treat it.

Dr. Thornton said keeping a humidifier nearby is the easiest thing you can do to ease that cough. Bringing them into the bathroom with the shower turned can be beneficial because of the steam.

Whooping Cough

The cough that doctors really worry about is a whooping cough.

"It's like a machine gun type cough and it gets the real distinctive whoop that gives it it's name," said Dr. Thornton. These kids are the ones he worries about because they could be in distress 

"That child is working hard to breath, very commonly they won't eat. They're so tired- especially the younger children- they're working so hard to breathe and they stop feeding," adds Dr. Thornton. 

When to See a Doctor

When your child has trouble breathing or a lack of appetite from a cough they just can't shake, it's time to see a doctor. Dr. Thornton says with a cold, a cough can last a few days. If it lasts longer than a week or two, it's a concern. 

Read Before You Reach for the Medicine Cabinet

One common mistake parents make, according to Dr. Thornton is giving their children cough medicine. If a child is under four-years-old, stay away from cough and cold medicine all together.

Dangers of kids and cold medicines

A spoonful of honey mixed with warm tea has shown more success. But remember, children under 1 should never be given raw honey.