Today my eldest daughter is staying at home because she is coughing. Nothing serious, probably just the common flu, but I am afraid that my youngest daughter will get it too.

What could be causing a baby to cough? There are lots of possible culprits, and in some cases you need to contact your baby's doctor immediately. Here are some of the most common causes of a cough that I gather from internet:

1. The common cold
If your baby has a cold, he may have a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, a reduced appetite, and/or a low fever.

2. Respiratory syncytial virus
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is common in babies. Symptoms resemble those of a cold, with a worsening cough and labored breathing. RSV usually strikes between November and mid-March and is sometimes no more troublesome than a cold. But it can lead to more serious respiratory illnesses, such as bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small breathing tubes) and pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) — especially in babies under a year old.

3. Croup
A deep cough that sounds like a bark is the calling card of croup. In babies, it's usually caused by a parainfluenza virus that narrows the windpipe. A croup cough is often worse at night. As horrible as this cough can sound, in most cases it's not too serious and can be treated at home. Still, you should call your doctor for advice.

4. Allergies, asthma, and environmental irritants
A baby who's allergic to something in his environment (such as cat dander or dust mites) may seem to have a cold that never goes away. Allergies can cause a runny nose (with clear mucus) or stuffy nose and, because of postnasal drip (mucus running down the back of his sinuses into his throat), a cough. Babies with asthma tend to cough a lot, too, especially at night. If your baby has asthma he may also have chest congestion, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. And he may have allergies or a family history of allergies or asthma.

5. Pneumonia
Many cases of pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs, start out as a cold. If your baby has a cold that seems to be getting worse, a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, a fever, and chills, call his doctor for an appointment.

6. Sinusitis
If your baby has a cough and a runny nose that has lasted for ten days or more with no signs of improvement — and your doctor has ruled out pneumonia — she may suspect sinusitis. This bacterial infection of sinus cavities causes a lingering cough because mucus is constantly draining down the back of the throat, triggering the cough reflex. If the doctor determines that your baby has sinusitis, she'll prescribe an antibiotic. Once the sinuses are clear again, the cough should stop. Many doctors, however, don't believe young babies can have sinus infections due to their immature sinuses and will take a wait-and-see approach rather than prescribing drugs.

7. Swallowing or inhaling an object (aspiration)
A cough that has hung on for a week or more without any associated signs of illness (runny nose, fever, lethargy) or the clear discharge from the nose that signals allergies may mean that your baby has something stuck in his throat or lungs. Aspiration is the term doctors use when someone swallows or inhales an object.This scenario is more common with babies who are mobile, have access to small objects, and like to put things in their mouth

8. Whooping cough
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has become less common thanks to the DTaP vaccine, but outbreaks still occur and the disease has been on the rise. A child with whooping cough typically coughs for 20 or 30 seconds nonstop and then struggles to breathe before the next coughing spell starts. A baby with whooping cough might also have a runny nose; red, watery eyes; a mild fever; loss of appetite; and diarrhea.

9. Cystic fibrosis
One of the clearest signs that a child may have inherited cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects about 1 in 3,000 children in the United States, is a constant cough with a thick, hard-to-clear yellow or green mucus. (Other signs include constipation, salty-tasting skin, not passing meconium right after birth, and not gaining weight or growing well.)



Sheila Sultani said...

My daughter got the RSV virus when she was 5 weeks old, it got so bad she could hardly breathe. She ended up at the childrens hospital for almost a week. Be careful of who comes near your infants (especially other kids) Make sure your other kids wash their hands really well before coming near. Older kids get this and it seems like just a cold but for infants, it could be fatal, especially if they were born prematurally. I'm glad you posted this list - I had never heard of RSV until my daughter got sick and I was amazed to learn that one whole wing of the Children's Hospital was set aside for babies with this virus, because there are so many.