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"Why would an infant cough??"


I am a young mom with a 11 month old infant. She just developed a cough (10 days ago) that is only getting better very slowly. She also has some temperature fluctuations, sometimes seeming too warm, sometimes too cold. Should I take her to a doctor? What's causing this?


Infants the age of your child are very frequently exposed to viruses and they very frequently contract upper respiratory infections caused by these viruses. Often, these viral infections causes cough and course junky sounding breathing. This is not usually a problem for the child, and it does resolve slowly, usually over several weeks.

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Things to watch out for would be rapid breathing, lethargy, or inability to eat or drink; these would be things that would require evaluation emergently by your pediatrician or emergency room. It is worth formally checking the child's temperature with a thermometer, rather than just feeling to see if she feels warm or cold. If the child actually does have a temperature, then she should be seen by a doctor, because many infants this age may actually have a urinary tract infection in addition to the cold and cough symptoms, and this can require additional treatment. In terms of home care, the best thing to do is to continue to provide liquids and foods as able to the child, understanding that they may not have much of an appetite but that they should keep drinking. You should avoid all over the counter cold medicines, as these are not safe in a child this age.

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