What to look out for
Coughs are often regarded as the ‘watchdog’ of the lungs. It is better for your child to cough up phlegm than to have it lodge lower in the lungs where it can cause serious infections like pneumonia. Coughing is part of your child’s natural immune defence system.
An asthmatic cough is caused by irritated airways.Causes can include dust, pollens, grasses, cold air and exercise but many asthmatic coughs are caused by the same as everyone else’s – by viral respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. Coughs often come with other symptoms like runny nose, fever, sore throat, ear ache and general aches and pains.
What can you do
Talk to your Pharmacist about over the counter remedies – paracetamol or Ibuprofen will relieve pain. Antibiotics are rarely needed for asthma coughs. Rest, fluids and taking time to allow your child’s own immune system to fight the infection are very important.
Coughing spreads the germs that caused your child’s cough in the first place so it is important not to pass the illness on to others. This can be avoided by getting your child to cough into a tissue, binning the tissue immediately and washing your hands afterwards.
As your child has asthma, they are probably already on inhalers and / or tablets to control their asthma. When their symptoms flare up you need to follow the management plan you and your doctor have agreed. This will vary depending on the pattern and severity of your child’s asthma. It will usually involve taking their reliever inhaler 4-5 times per day and may involve increasing their preventer inhaler while they have the cough. Your child may need a short course of steroids but asthmatics rarely need antibiotics even though they are commonly prescribed. Green phlegm is produced by inflammation caused by irritation of the lungs and does not necessarily mean there is a bacterial infection that needs antibiotic treatment.
When to seek help
If your child’s asthma is not relieved by your usual management plan your child should be checked by your doctor.
Warning signs of a severe asthma attack are:
- Child unable to speak a full sentence
- Very rapid breathing / shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Severe cough
Do not delay in seeking help if in any doubt about your child’s asthma
For more information on coughs visit the HSE website by clicking here
For more information on asthma visit the HSE website by clicking here
As you can probably guess, this website can’t ever replace the advice you might get from a health professional. While we aim to give you the best advice we can, if you are at all worried about yourself or your child, please call or visit your GP or your Pharmacist.
We hope you feel better soon!