What is the management of a cough?

  1. If the child has a cough but no signs of breathing difficulty, the cause is usually an upper respiratory tract viral infection. They do not need an antibiotic but something to soothe the throat (warm water or tea with honey or sugar). Cough mixtures usually only help by soothing the throat. Therefore, use a simple cough linctus.
  2. The cough should get better by 3 weeks. If not, think of TB, asthma or whooping cough. These children should be referred for further investigation and management. Always think of tuberculosis in a child with a chronic cough and weight loss.
  3. If the child has signs of breathing difficulty, refer for management of the underlying condition.

There is no scientific evidence that cough suppressants, expectorants or mucolytics are effective for an acute cough cause by a viral infection.

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