Infections of the respiratory tract are named according to the part that is affected.
Antibiotics do not help coughs caused by viruses. Occasionally a cough might be due to pneumonia. In this case antibiotics are usually given.
|Laryngitis||Vocal cords||Older children / adults||Virus|
|Croup||Vocal cords and windpipe||Younger children||Virus|
|Bronchitis*||Breathing tubes (large)||Older children / adults||Virus|
|Bronchiolitis||Breathing tubes (small)||Infants||Virus|
|Pneumonia||Air sacs||All ages||Bacteria or virus|
*Refers to individuals with otherwise healthy lungs
- Fever, cough and chest pain.
- Coughing up mucus that may be yellow or green. This does not mean it is a bacterial infection.
- Wheezing may occur.
NOTE: With viral bronchitis, 45% of people still cough after 2 weeks. 25% of people still cough after 3 weeks.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice. Warm clear fluids such as soup will help relax the airways. Offer these to your child if your child has a cough. Get lots of rest or allow your child to get plenty of rest.
- Use a cool mist humidifier.
- Cough suppressants and decongestants may help older children and adults but should be used with caution in younger children. NOTE: Do not give these products to infants or children under the age of six years without first talking with your doctor. NOTE: Decongestants and cough syrup might also contain fever reducing medication. Read labels carefully and check with your pharmacist or doctor to avoid overdosing.
- Plain cough drops (not antibacterial) may help older children and adults. Avoid antibacterial cough drops because they can lead to antibiotic resistance. NOTE: Cough drops should not be given to children less than six years of age because of the risk of choking.
- For pneumonia, a chest x-ray is recommended and antibiotics are usually prescribed.
When to seek medical attention:
Children: See your doctor if your child. . .
- Has a fever lasting more than 3 days
- Has a cough associated with vomiting
- Is very ill (especially after 2-3 days) and does not want to eat or drink
When to Worry about your child
Go to the emergency department if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose
- A fever with shaking chills
- Blue lips
- Limp or unable to move
- Hard to wake up, unusually quiet or unresponsive
- Stiff neck
- Seems confused