Chronic cough in infants and children: an update

Laryngoscope. 1991 Jun;101(6 Pt 1):596-605. doi: 10.1288/00005537-199106000-00005.


Cough is a symptom frequently encountered by the otolaryngologist--head and neck surgeon. Although most coughs are self limited, chronic cough often proves to be a frustrating problem. Seventy-two infants and children under age 16 with a normal chest radiogram have now been evaluated for chronic cough persisting for longer than 4 weeks. Cough-variant asthma was the most common cause of cough, followed by sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux, aberrant innominate artery, psychogenic cough, and subglottic stenosis. Chronic cough is best managed by first following an individualized diagnostic protocol designed to determine the etiology of the cough. This is followed by specific therapy to treat the underlying disorder. Children with persistent cough and normal chest radiograph are best served when referred promptly for evaluation by an otolaryngologist when the primary physician's initial efforts at diagnosis and treatment are not effective. Endoscopy is underutilized in practice and its importance understated in the literature. It is particularly helpful in establishing a precise diagnosis in infants under 18 months of age.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Cough / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male