The child with an incessant dry cough

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2019 Apr:30:58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Aug 30.


Cough is a forced expulsive manoeuvre, usually against a closed glottis and is associated with a characteristic sound that is easily recognised. It is a protective reflex against aspiration and to clear airway secretions. In children cough is extremely common and when prolonged it is often a cause for concern for parents, resulting in a high proportion of attendances to primary and secondary care. There are many causes of cough which may be divided into productive or non-productive in character. As there are many guidelines for the management of productive or 'wet' cough the focus of this paper will be to discuss some of the main causes, investigations and management options for 'dry' cough. Dry coughing suggests airway irritation and or inflammation (without excessive extra secretion formation) and is predominantly the result of an acute viral respiratory infection that may last up to 3-4 weeks.

Keywords: Children; Cough; Non-productive; Viral.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / therapy*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / complications
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / drug therapy*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / therapy*
  • Whooping Cough / complications
  • Whooping Cough / therapy*


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution