Does my child have bronchitis or a cold?

Winter weather beckons the flu and cold season. But do you know when your child's cough has actually...

Winter weather beckons the flu and cold season. But do you know when your child's cough has actually turned into bronchitis? Here are a few telltale symptoms to look out for.

All about the cough
Most winter illnesses, such as the flu, a cold or pneumonia, are characterized by annoying, raspy coughs. But when your child has bronchitis the coughing doesn't last a few hours. It's persistent. This is a red flag to call your pediatrician. To be classified as acute bronchitis, the cough must last a few weeks. Coughs associated with chronic bronchitis last more than three months and occur intermittently over a period of two years, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A cough due to bronchitis may be caused by several factors including: a respiratory infection requiring an antibiotic treatment (which is common in winter and often confused with a cold), smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke or an inflammatory disease of the bronchial tubes, such as asthma, sinusitis or cystic fibrosis. Environmental factors, such as allergies to grain dust or lung irritants like chemical cleansers, can elevate the risk of developing bronchitis.

Additional bronchitis symptoms
Like a cold, bronchitis sufferers may also produce phlegm, have a fever, experience chills, feel fatigued and have trouble sleeping. These symptoms shouldn't be taken lightly. They can last for several weeks and over-the-counter cold and flu medications can't cure bronchitis.

It's time to call a doctor in Atlanta when your child's fever spikes above 100 degrees, he can't sleep for several nights in a row or his coughing fits don't cease. If the child coughs up blood or begins wheezing, go to the nearest emergency room immediately. An ER doctor can suggest a breathing treatment to calm the situation quickly and on-going care to alleviate the persistent discomfort.

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