Currently we, at Dr. Indu’s New Born and Child Care Centre are seeing a lot of our little patients coming in with cough. In the current scenario, one can’t help but wonder – Is my child’s cough due to Covid?
Doctor, Is it…
The monsoons have brought in a surge of respiratory infections. A lot of children are coughing, some so severely that they’re not sleeping through the night, with some even having fever. Quite understandably even one cough or a single sneeze, sends parents into a tizzy. “Doctor is it…?” they often ask us with trepidation. To address the elephant in the room – no, most of the times it is not Covid. There is a definite reduction in the number of covid cases in Mumbai currently (as of July 2021).
Then what is it?
What we are seeing currently are a lot of viral infections caused by viruses like the Flu (Influenza) virus, the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the Rhinovirus, the Human Metapneumovirus (HMPV) and many others. Typically these children come with mild to moderate fever and a cough which is very distressing. These coughs are lasting for 8 – 10 days and even up to two weeks in most kids. Some of these children are landing up getting admitted. We are observing that kids below the age of three years are having more problems.
Why this surge?
We usually see this surge every monsoon. This is true, not just for Mumbai or India, but is seen all over the globe. Children usually catch these viruses from schools where even a single coughing or sneezing child can spread the virus to many others. Last year, we saw a break because of Covid, everything remaining shut and children not moving out. The number of these (other than Covid) viral respiratory infections was quite low for these reasons. This year, it has come back with a vengeance as if to make up for their time off last year.
Many children who were born within these last two years were not exposed to any infection like they usually would, from the playground or day care centre or from older siblings or relatives. These children are now probably getting exposed to these viruses for the first time in their lives.
A message to parents.
Dr. Indu Khosla, Paediatric Pulmonologist in Mumbai, sends out a message to worried parents, “Do not panic. The cough may sound really distressing. The child may be uncomfortable. But, most of these infections are not due to Covid. Definitely do visit your paediatrician if your child is coughing and have your child checked out by your doctor. But please stay calm.”
How are these viral infections treated?
As they are caused by viruses, most of them are not requiring anti biotics which are beneficial for bacterial infections. Antibiotics will, in no way, cut down the cough or the duration of the illness – a myth that most parents have. We are not too keen on prescribing too many cough syrups for younger kids as they do have their fair share of adverse effects. Some of these children develop wheezing and we do put them on medicines called bronchodilators – which help to widen your child’s wind pipe and thus relieve the wheezing. Be aware that these coughs will last for 10 to 14 days as aforementioned.
We are seeing kids getting it from a family member, even if one person in the family has it and also from crowded places. So it is best to avoid crowded places, even though a lot of us are now moving out. This is an expected monsoon peak of viral illnesses that we see every year. This will also pass.
What can you do?
Do visit your Paediatrician if your child’s cough lasts more than two – three days or if your child has a distressing cough or fever. Keep a regular check on your child’s oxygen saturation and temperature. Keep your child hydrated. Do not force feed them or they are likely to vomit. Do not start your child off on antibiotics without consulting your doctor, as antibiotics generally do not help. And off course, stay calm.
Dr. Indu Khosla is a Paediatric Pulmonologist & Sleep Specialist practicing at Andheri in Mumbai. Dr. Khosla can be reached via whatsapp at 8779982090 or call at 022-26355829 / 022-26300730 or via email at email@example.com
Expert Moderator: Dr. Indu Khosla | Blog Author: Dr. Amrita Sodhi