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What to do when your child with cystic fibrosis has a cough

A cough can be a problem for people with cystic fibrosis. People with cystic fibrosis have thick, sticky mucus in their lungs which is hard for them to clear. This sticky stuff is a good place for bacteria to grow and a if your child gets a cold or viral infection, it can lead to a bacterial infection. Lots of infections can cause inflammation and damage your child’s airways. Because of this we like to act quickly if your child has a cough to make sure it does not turn into anything worse.

What should I tell a doctor or nurse?

What type of cough is it?

  • When did it start?
  • Have they got a cold or runny nose?
  • Is it wet sounding?
  • Is it dry cough?
  • Is it worse at night?

Is your child producing mucus?

  • How much is there?
  • Are they swallowing it?
  • Do they normally produce sputum?
  • What colour is it? Is it yellow, green or clear?

Is your child wheezy?

  • Is this worse with exercise?
  • Do they take inhalers?
  • Which inhalers do they use?
  • Are they using them more frequently?
  • Does their blue inhaler help?

Is your child on any antibiotics?

  • When did they start?
  • Have their symptoms improved?
  • Are these symptoms new?
  • Have they got a rash or temperature?

Is your child eating and drinking okay?

Are there any other symptoms you are worried about?

How active is your child?

What happens next?

We will talk about this with a doctor and either arrange for you to be seen on the unit or give you a prescription through your GP within 24 hours, and arrange to get a mucus specimen or cough swab.

If you have been asked to send a cough swab from home please include a note with a symptom list on it or contact the staff on the unit. Please do not refrigerate it.

Contact us

Please contact the cystic fibrosis unit and speak to a member of the team.
Telephone 0114 271 7375

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

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NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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