Any member of the household with a cough bothers the whole household but when a child has a cough it seems more bothersome. A cough is the body’s way of clearing an irritation in the throat or airway. The irritant signals the brain to tell the muscles in your chest and abdomen to push the air out of the lungs with enough force to blow out the irritant. An occasional cough is normal and healthy but one that persist for several weeks or has bloody or discolored mucous needs medical attention. Sometimes coughing can be prolonged and so vigorous that it causes sleeplessness, headaches, vomiting and even broken ribs.

Because coughs are so bothersome, cold and cough medicines are a billion dollar business. A German company, Statista, reports that cold and cough medicines in the US will amount to a 10.21 billion dollar revenue in 2022. One can only imagine the amount of money spent on advertising these medications.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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