Part 2 in my childhood charts series. See more charts here.

4 Common Causes of Coughs in Kids—With a Printable Chart | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

This is part two of my series about tips on recognizing childhood illness. Last time, I talked about illnesses with rashes. This time, it’s illnesses that come with bad coughs.

If you can’t get expert help, you need to be able to recognize them so you’ll have an idea of how long they’ll last, what the most common complications are, and which can be helped with antibiotics in case you have them or can get to a doctor for them.

If you wish, print out and store the chart, along with the one on rashes and the upcoming one on illnesses that can cause neck swelling.

As you can see many of the symptoms are initially the same for each disease in this chart. So are the general treatments except for whooping cough’s. Early treatment with antibiotics can decrease the severity and length of this bacterial disease. In fact, if it’s going around, close contacts can go ahead and start antibiotics before symptoms.

How Common Are These Diseases?

All the diseases but whooping cough are very common.

By the time they’re 2 years old almost all children have had bronchiolitis at least once. That’s inflammation of the bronchioles, tiny airways in the lungs. Viruses usually cause it, the most common being the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Bronchiolitis can range from about the same as a bad cold to hospitalization requiring oxygen or even help breathing. For adults it usually presents as a cold, but it can be can be severe in older folks.

Though there is a vaccine for whooping cough, the disease is actually not that rare. It usually hits in regional outbreaks. There were almost 50,000 reported cases in the U.S. in 2012 and probably many more not reported. Although it can hit anyone, it tends to be more serious the younger the person. About half of those under 1 year old end up in the hospital. Worldwide there are 16 million cases and about 200,000 deaths per year.

No matter the cause, anyone with trouble breathing or who just looks really sick should seek expert care right away if at all possible.

>> Next page: The childhood coughs chart


Thanks to my daughter Beth Hubbard, a flight paramedic and owner of the Alaska wilderness medical survival school Solace of Safety, for the idea for this series.


Note about comments: One disease in this article has a vaccine, but this post is not about vaccines. It’s about recognizing these diseases. Comments attacking me, vilifying vaccines, or attacking other commenters will be deleted. Click here for my views on vaccines.