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Your Kid’s Cough: 5 of The Most Common Causes of Coughing in Kids

March 18, 2024

Your Kid’s Cough: 5 of The Most Common Causes of Coughing in Kids

Having a cough yourself can be bothersome enough.  When your kid gets a cough, all hell breaks loose.  Being sick makes children cranky and uncomfortable.  To make matters worse, they may struggle to eat and sleep when they are feeling under the weather.  Here are the five most common causes of coughing in kids so that you can be informed this winter.


Allergies are the most common cause of kids’ coughs.  Even if your child has not been tested for allergies, you can sort of figure out if their cough is caused by them.  Coughs and other allergy symptoms like runny nose that repeat every year during a particular season are probably caused by allergies.  Kids who cough a lot after spending time outdoors may have pollen allergies.  Talk to your child’s pediatrician about allergy testing and treatment if a cough like this persists.


Asthma is another very common cause of coughing in children.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in twelve kids has asthma.  Asthma is much more common in children than in adults.  The disease causes the airways to restrict, making it more difficult to breathe.  This can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.  Talk to your kid’s pediatrician if these symptoms appear.

Whooping cough

Pertussis, which is more commonly known as whooping cough, is a common disease in young children.  There is a vaccine for whooping cough that all children who are healthy enough should get.  However, the vaccine is given in doses from the age of two months through a booster at age 11 or 12.  This means that young kids can still get the illness.

The best way to prevent your child from getting whooping cough, beyond vaccinating them, is to keep them away from any outbreak.  Whooping cough is incredibly contagious.  If your kid does catch whooping cough, it may last for months.  Visit a doctor as soon as possible, as pertussis can be life threatening.


Children may develop coughs during or after being infected with a common disease like a cold, the flu, or croup.  Colds usually cause a mild hacking cough.  The flu can cause a severe dry cough in some cases.  Croup causes a loud cough and noisy breathing, mostly at night.  Any of these infections can be treated with cough medicine for kids if they are causing a lot of discomfort to the child.  Never give children adult cough medicine, or any cough medication to children under age four.  Cough drops can also help sooth a kid’s cough.  Because they are a choking hazard, do not give cough drops to young children.

Habit coughing

Some children develop a habit of coughing even when they don’t need to.  This is caused by a cough that has a real reason at the beginning, but continues even when the child is well.  Habit coughing is distinguishable from a cough as a symptom of an illness because it stops when the child is sleeping or distracted.

Speech and behavioral therapy can help children get rid of a habit cough.  Giving a kid small sips of water when they feel like coughing can also help.

BASS Primary Care has cough solutions

If you worry your child’s cough is a sign of something more serious, BASS Primary Care is here to help. Call (925) 962-9120 to schedule an appointment, or just walk in from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.