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By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Cough cleans the child’s lungs for slime. Cough medicine is rarely necessary. The child sleeps better at night, if you raise the bedhead. If the child coughs and has trouble breathing, you must call the doctor immediately.

Cough is protection of the airways. When the child coughs, slime from the lungs come up which are thereby cleansed. Cough is good for children and should normally not be prevented with cough medicine. Cough arises, when the airways are irritated by infection (common cold, influenza, asthmatic bronchitis or pneumonia) or if food enters the trachea. The cough can be dry and barky (tickling cough) or loose with coughing up/vomiting of slime.

Prolonged cough can be caused by asthma. Consider whether the child has asthma if the child:

  • Coughs for more than two weeks
  • Coughs or has a hissing breathing when it laughs, plays or do sportshas trouble with participating in sports with children of the same age
  • Has the common cold repeatedly
  • Wakes at night because of cough

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An infection can spread to its surrounding through fits of coughing and by touching of the ill person. This is why frequent washing of the hands is important.

Day care:
The child is kept at home until its temperature is normal and the child can participate in its usual activities without extra care.


All parents want to help their children get wrid of the cough and there are several different cough medicines on the market. It is, however, sparsely documented whether any of these cough medicines works on the ordinary cough you have during a common cold. Only children with asthma or asthmatic bronchitis need medication.

What can you do?

Cough medicine should be used as little as possible. Try camomile tea to loosen the slime and soothe the cough. Raising the bedhead improves breathing, makes sure that the child swallows the slime and decreases the number of coughing fits. At night the coughing fits can be of such a bother that the children cannot sleep.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If the cough continues after the child has recovered from the cold. If the child coughs up green or yellow slime and has a fever.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the child coughs and has trouble breathing.