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An approach to the child with a wet cough.


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When children have a wet cough, it suggests the presence of secretions in their airways. This often has an infectious aetiology which is usually a self-limiting viral infection requiring no investigation or treatment. In those with acute wet cough it is, however, important to identify features suggestive of community acquired pneumonia or an inhaled foreign body as these causes require specific management. When there is chronic wet cough, the most common diagnoses are protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB) and bronchiectasis. The relationship between these two conditions is complex as the development of bronchiectasis manifests as a clinical continuum in which the early features of which are indistinguishable from PBB. It is therefore important to identify PBB and chronic cough endotypes which are associated with an increased risk of bronchiectasis. This article offers a pragmatic approach to the investigation and treatment of children with wet cough. It is hoped this will limit unnecessary investigations whist aiding the prompt diagnosis of conditions needing treatment to reduce symptom burden and prevent further lung damage.


Gilchrist. (2019). An approach to the child with a wet cough. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, 75-81.

Acceptance Date Nov 16, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2019
Journal Paediatric Respiratory Reviews
Print ISSN 1526-0542
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 75-81
Keywords Acute cough; Bronchiectasis; Chronic cough; Community acquired pneumonia; Inhaled foreign body; Productive cough; Protracted bacterial bronchitis; Viral upper respiratory tract infection; Wet cough
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