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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

When does a cough need a doctor?

(4 Posts)
NutBiscuit Sat 22-Mar-14 12:21:52

Sorry, probably stupid question but I was just wondering how you know whether a cough is just a cough or if it's turned into a chest infection which needs antibiotics.

DS is 12 months and has got a cough, it's been going on for about a week now. It's keeping him up as night and he has a coughing fit every hour or so during the day. No vomiting with it and no temperature.

I don't really want to take him to the GP as I think they might just prescribe antibiotics anyway and I really don't want him to have antibiotics needlessly. Not because of any anti-drugs sentiments, just that he was on antibiotics for the first 6 months of his life and the battle to get him to take them means that he now has real issues with things being put in his mouth and just vomits if I try to give him calpol/vit drops etc. The thought of trying to give him antibiotics 4 times a day fills me with dread.

On the other hand, obviously if he needs antibiotics then I want him to have them.

So...what should I be looking out for which might indicate that this is more than just a cough and might need a trip to the doctors?

LondonJax Sat 22-Mar-14 12:37:02

When DS was this age the doctor used to say he would normally give it two weeks IF there is no temperature, no sickness and he was eating and drinking well.

BUT because DS has a heart condition the doctor would tell me to bring him in after a week with the same conditions as he obviously had more chance of a problem.

It depends on why your DS was on antibiotics earlier in his life. If it was chest related or for a life threatening problem I would take him in on the next available appointment just to be sure. If it was for something unrelated I'd probably give the GP surgery a ring for advice and keep an eye on him in the mean time. Then you know for the next time. Because with kids there is ALWAYS a next time with chesty coughs!

And I know where you're coming from with the antibiotics. Our DS is six and we've had a stain on our living room carpet for five years (despite endless washing etc) from an antibiotic spill caused by him kicking the bottle over when he was a year and a half old. Didn't want to take it and kicked out when we had to hold him still to use a syringe to get the blooming stuff in! We learned that a towel round him, a syringe and put the lid back on the bottle immediately saved a lot of dramas! Popping a DVD or CBeebies on the TV when we did the dose also helped to distract him.

It does get better. He's happy to take antibiotics straight off the spoon now.

LondonJax Sat 22-Mar-14 12:42:31

Oh, and with the keeping awake at night, if the surgery say to give it a few more days, try one of those plug in vapouriser things. I discovered them a couple of years ago and they have saved our sanity more than once as DS is susceptible to every cough there is! Calpol do one. You get five little white strips. You put one in the plug in night light, switch it on and the room fills with mentholy fumes.

We pop one of those on as we put DS to sleep when he's had a night cough and within an hour or so he's fast asleep and the cough has subsided. It's because they can't blow their nose to clear the gunk and it sits on the chest. I used one for myself a few weeks ago as I just couldn't get to sleep with a night cough and it worked. Check the label to make sure it's OK for your DS age group - although I think you can use it from 3 or 6 months.

NutBiscuit Sat 22-Mar-14 14:30:21

Thanks London. DS was on antibiotics as a preventative measure to stop him getting a UTI as he had a kidney condition so nothing chest related.

DS is trying to eat well but not really succeeding as the amount of gunk on his chest/in his nose is stopping him swallowing properly as he can't breathe! Not sure ifthat counts!

I've got one of those plug in things and also muslins with olbas oil on in the bedroom but tbh I think the fumes sometimes make him cough worse! Could just be coincidence though.

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