A Tale Of Two Coughs

It’s that time of year again…. the seasons are changing, in Jozi, the August winds have started. People are literally coughing and sneezing all over the place, myself included. But the biggest sufferer of coughs in our house is Hannah.

Know Your Cough

Hannah really struggles at this time of year. And this kid can really cough. There are times when I feel SO sorry for her. She just has to cough or sneeze once and we know what’s coming, weeks and weeks of a hacking cough, that leaves her exhausted and frays everyone’s nerves with its persistence.

While a cough can be a symptom of both a common cold and flu, the difference between a wet and dry cough is definitely a difference worth knowing.

In Hannah’s case, hers is a dry, irritating cough that stems from her allergic rhinitis. I also think this is so important for people to know, there is a vast difference between a wet and a dry cough, just like there’s a massive difference between a cold and flu.

So what is the difference?

There are so many things that can cause these annoying coughs. In Hannah’s case, it’s allergies. But a dry cough can also be caused by viral infections, a smoky or dry environment, air pollution, asthma, acid reflux, acute bronchitis, croup and certain medications.

Dr Sarahan Brophy, who runs a family medicine practice in Sea Point, Cape Town, says that a wet cough is termed this because when you cough, mucus or phlegm is produced. This type of cough usually accompanies feelings of congestion, is often feels worse on waking. It can be described as having a “rattly” cough.


Obviously, these two types of coughs should be treated differently. And whenever I pop in at the pharmacy to get a cough syrup for Hannah, the first question they ask is whether or not it’s a dry or wet cough and I was never very sure how to answer this question, until I found this website: Know Your Cough.  A dry cough can be treated with a suppressant, while a wet should be encouraged to prevent secretions from pooling in the lungs and impairing breathing or causing infection

But when it comes to our kids…

I know as parents, we worry! Especially in Hannah’s case, I used to worry a lot? Is this normal? How long should the coughing go on for? Am I using the best treatment? Well here are a few interesting facts that helped put my mind at ease:

I know so many of us worry about our kids and their persistent coughing, but if you’re still unsure, go to Know Your Cough for more information or speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you need clarity on your symptoms and what treatment is required.

Does your child suffer from a persistent cough?


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  • Reply Janel

    Thank you for the info. My little girl suffers the same as well and its pretty daunting

    August 21, 2018 at 11:09 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I found the website quite informative because I never knew how to interpret Hannah’s cough! Hope it helps.

      August 21, 2018 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Lydia Afonso

    Now I know the difference. never knew.

    August 29, 2018 at 8:56 pm
  • Reply Stephanie

    This post comes just in time as my kids seem to have picked up runny nose which ended in post nasal and then into coughs, was wondering how long before there over it

    September 1, 2018 at 8:37 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      It is the most frustrating thing. Watch my blog later this week, I have another gem coming up on how to tell the difference between a cold and flu and also summer and winter colds and how to treat them.

      September 2, 2018 at 5:16 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    I also battled to understand the difference till I found this little gem.

    September 2, 2018 at 9:03 am
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