How to Handle Chronic Cough in Kids: A Practical Approach to the Workup

Linda S. Nield, Deepak M. Kamat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A cough is considered chronic when it persists for 3 or more weeks. Typically, chronic cough is a lingering manifestation of a viral upper respiratory tract infection; other, more serious causes-such as asthma, sinusitis, or gastroesophageal reflux-must also be considered. Look to the history for diagnostic clues and order a chest film, which may point to pneumonia, hyperinflation, atelectasis, or cardiac or pulmonary abnormality. Diagnostic test methods will depend, in part, on the child's age; for example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against imaging of the sinuses in children 6 years or younger. Pulmonary function tests can be useful in diagnosing asthma if the child is able to cooperate. Consider ordering a barium swallow for a very young child whose cough may be the result of a vascular anomaly. A pH probe study can help you determine whether cough is secondary to gastroesophageal reflux. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1686
Number of pages6
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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