Children with sudden cough as their only symptom are being wrongly treated for asthma, warns new guidance on acute and chronic cough in children.
The British Thoracic Society guidelines say that most of these children will have a viral respiratory infection, and there's little point in prescribing bronchodilators to ease the symptoms.
Only children with whooping cough should be prescribed antibiotics, says the guidance.
Worrying symptoms in chronic cough requiring further investigation include the symptom in neonates, or when feeding, or accompanied by night sweats and fever.
Productive cough should also raise an alarm, says the guidance. Most children with chronic cough lasting more than eight weeks will need chest x-ray and spirometry, it recommends.
Thorax online first (2007)