How to Determine if Your Cough is Caused by the Coronavirus

Coughing is a frequent sign of COVID-19 infection. Learn how to determine if your cough or your child’s cough is caused by the coronavirus, whether it’s normal, and when to call the doctor for further evaluation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children with COVID-19 typically suffer mild cold-like symptoms (CDC). Nonetheless, occasionally severe cases are conceivable in infants, toddlers, and children. It is hardly surprising that parents worry every time their child coughs!

But how can you distinguish between a cough caused by the coronavirus and one caused by normal circumstances? This rather common COVID-19 symptom was discussed with a specialist.

Is Coughing a Symptom of Coronavirus Infection?

Here’s the perplexing aspect of COVID-19: Individuals can present with a wide variety of symptoms. The fact that symptoms appear to vary with each new variant, including the extremely contagious Omicron strain, is not helpful. It is also possible to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19; this is particularly likely if you have had a complete vaccination.

However, coughing appears to be one of the most prevalent indicators of COVID in children. According to the CDC, adolescents may also experience fever, lethargy, sore throat, congestion, body aches, and gastrointestinal difficulties. In most cases, the coronavirus in young individuals resembles a cold or the flu.

Certainly, coughing can be an indication of COVID-19, but it does not necessarily mean that your child has the virus.

What Does the Cough of a Coronavirus Sound Like?

According to Hector de Leon, M.D., a doctor for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, coughs caused by the coronavirus are often dry, meaning they do not produce mucus or phlegm. It is presumably caused by a viral inflammation of the lung tissues. Additional symptoms of a dry cough include throat tickling, hacking sounds, and a lack of alleviation after coughing.

Dr. de Leon emphasizes, however, that a percentage of COVID-19 patients instead report a productive wet cough. This cough produces mucus or phlegm and is frequently accompanied by postnasal drip.

Due to Omicron’s tendency to settle higher in the respiratory system, doctors observe an additional symptom in young children: a croup-like cough that barks. This can occur when a child’s airways become bloated or inflamed. If your child gets a barking cough, it is crucial to discuss it with their doctor, but there is no need for alarm because croup is common and easy to cure.

My Kid Has a Cough; Does This Indicate COVID-19?

Parents and children worldwide are asking, “Do I have COVID-19 if I have a cough?”

Excellent question.

“There are many possible causes for coughing. It is not always contagious,” says Dr. de Leon. While diagnosing coughs, it is necessary to look at the entire picture. In addition to COVID-19, a dry or wet cough may indicate a viral illness such as the common cold or influenza, asthma, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or irritation from environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke.

Examine your child’s general health. Do they also sneeze, have red eyes, and have a sore throat? If so, adds Dr. de Leon, their symptoms are likely due to allergies. Likewise, GERD may be the cause of a cough that worsens after eating and is accompanied by heartburn. “If your child isn’t struggling and is able to do typical activities such as play outside, it’s likely something they can handle at home,” says Dr. de Leon.

Testing can help you establish whether or not your child has COVID-19. Your child may be infected if they have recently been exposed to the virus or if they develop additional symptoms. They often appear two to fourteen days after transmission and may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Painful throat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • nasal discharge or congestion.
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhea are examples of gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Breathing difficulty or shortness of breath.
  • Inability to taste or smell.

When to Contact a Physician

Notify the doctor if you suspect your child has COVID-19, and ask if the child should be checked. Always contact the office before your visit; they may require particular precautions due to the possibility of coronavirus cases. However, “illnesses can frequently be identified over the phone,” according to Dr. de Leon. The healthcare practitioner will determine if your child needs a coronavirus test.

Notify your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms accompany your cough:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Bluish face or lips
  • Lethargy or inability to awaken.
  • Severe abdominal discomfort
  • Fever, rash, stomach pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhea are multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) symptoms.

How to Cure a Cough Due to Coronavirus

The CDC suggests resting at home, obtaining adequate rest, and monitoring your symptoms to treat COVID-19. Dr. de Leon says that honey can relieve a dry cough, and that staying hydrated also expedites healing.

Yet, preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others is arguably the most critical thing you can do. Coronavirus infections are often mild in youngsters but can be severe in the elderly and individuals with impaired immune systems. Caregivers should frequently wash their hands, disinfect surfaces, and refrain from exchanging personal objects.

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