What is a Chronic Cough?

A cough lasting longer than 8 weeks is regarded as a prolonged or chronic cough. This is because a cough from an infection like a cold or flu will usually resolve after 2 weeks.

Coughing in children can be very distressing and can interfere with daily activities.


Causes of a chronic cough

There are many causes of a prolonged cough, depending on the nature, duration and age of the child. A dry cough at night with exercise could be due to asthma. A persistent wet cough could be due to more serious conditions such as cystic fibrosis. Other causes include post nasal drip, gastro-oesophageal reflux and autoimmune diseases.


Danger signs

The following are danger signs that indicate a serious cause of a chronic cough:

  • Moist cough
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Presence of blood in the mucus
  • Abnormal voice or crying

Treatment of a chronic cough

Your doctor may need to do special tests to determine the cause of cough eg. Chest xray, a lung function/blowing test, allergy and blood tests.

The treatment will then be aimed at treating the underlying cause.



 These articles have been written by Paediatrician and Pulmonologist, Dr Salome Abbott (MBBCh (Wits), FCPaed(SA), MMed(Paed), DipAllerg(SA), Dip Paed Resp Med (Europe), Cert Paed Pulmonology(SA))

Dr Abbott currently has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti and Kingsbury Hospitals in Cape Town. The focus of her practice is treating children with respiratory diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and other chronic lung problems. Tel: 021 506 5228 or for full contact details please CLICK HERE