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Cough: A Distressing Symptom to a Child and a Challenge to a Physician

ABSTRACT: Cough is the commonest symptom for which patients seek medical advice and an annoying symptom especially in younger children. Some coughs are not serious, but a cough can be a sign of a serious problem. It is difficult to determine what causes cough but the challenge is to determine how cough can be treated. 
Cold and cough are terms often misinterpreted by parents. Physicians must ensure the correct meaning of these terms by discussing them with parents. Cold refers to symptoms such as nasal stuffiness or drainage, sore or scratchy throat, sneezing, while cough is a sudden and often repetitively occurring reflex, which helps to clear the respiratory tract from secretions, irritants, foreign particles, and microbes. Many parents believe “noisy breathing” is a symptom of a cold and cough and misguide the physician. Thus, it is essential to know how well parents understand the terms they so casually use.