Persistent or recurrent cough lasting for three to four weeks or more should be evaluated. It may indicate one of several underlying illnesses.
The most common causes of cough depend on the age of the child. In an infant or younger child a birth defect of the airway may be more likely. Other considerations in all ages include post-nasal drip, asthma, cystic fibrosis, airway foreign body, infection and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which are all manageable conditions.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Evaluation should include a thorough history and physical examination, a chest radiograph, and depending on the age of the child, possibly examination of the vocal cords, sinus radiographs, allergy tests, pulmonary function tests, bronchial challenge, additional X-ray studies or esophageal pH monitoring. These procedures identify the cause of cough in most cases. Treatment can then be aimed at the specific underlying cause.