ZocdocAnswersWhy is my baby coughing?

Question

Why is my baby coughing?

I have a 6 week old son who seems healthy and lively in all respects, but at night he'll sometimes have these short coughing fits. At first I was worried, but he seemed to get better? then worse? then better again! What is happening? It always seems to be at night. Should I take him to the doctor?

Answer

Coughing is a common but potentially concerning symptom. I would encourage you to have your child evaluated by his pediatrician. A cough is a normal reflex. We have developed a the reflex to clear the airways of dirt, inflammation or other obstructing materials. That is to say, if your child is coughing that suggests there is something in the airway that needs to be cleared. That can either be something small (like normal airway mucus) or something more serious (like and infection). As for what could be causing this, there could be a few things to rule out. One would be an infection. Another possibility is a spasm of the airway. This can be caused by asthma or other allergies. It is important to rule this out in young children. Another possibility that should be ruled out is that there is a problem with swallowing. There are a few problems that should be ruled out: A Tracheo-esophageal fistula is a problem where the air pipe (trachea) somehow connects to the food pipe (esophagus). Therefore with feeding the airway gets clogged and requires a cough. These fits should be investigated. While hopefully a normal cough, this must be investigated. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.