There is a surge in the number of children presenting with cough at a number of paediatric centres in Chennai.
Janani Sankar, deputy medical director, Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital, said the outpatient numbers have tripled due to the surge in children with cough. “We have been seeing such cases since July. The volume is high. School-going children are presenting with continuous dry cough, probably due to viral infections. It lasts for four to five days, or up to a week,” she said.
Dr. Janani said that parents and school authorities need not panic. “Home remedies such as giving warm water and honey can be tried but cough syrup should be given only based on prescription. Avoid using multiple cough syrups as some may cause drowsiness and increase heart rate,” she said.
Schools should allow children to wear a mask and attend classes, instead of sending them home for mild cough, she said.
Rema Chandramohan, director, Institute of Social Paediatrics, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, said there were several children with respiratory infections, with cough being the major symptom. “This is not a serious cough but can be troublesome. It is most likely viral. We have been seeing more children for almost a month,” she said.
She said some children presented with wheezing. “Some required admissions and the symptoms settled down with antihistamines and bronchodilators,” Dr. Rema said. She pointed out that schools were functioning in full swing and children were getting exposed to infections after being away from schools for almost two years.
“Any distressing cough that keeps children awake at night, cough associated with fever, breathlessness, and warning signs such as lethargy or altered consciousness must be seen by a doctor,” she said.
Senior paediatrician P. Ramkumar said that cases of cough were on the rise. “I am seeing more cases for the past three months which correlates with the unprecedented rain from June to August. There are at least 10 to 20 patients at the clinic every day,” he said.
Noting that it was mostly due to viruses and rapid seasonal changes, he said it was self-limiting and would probably go away within a week.
At the Institute of Child Health, a senior doctor said while they are seeing children with fever, there was no significant increase in the number of them presenting with cough. “We tell parents of the warning signs in any child presenting with fever and ask them to bring them back even if they have the slightest suspicion,” the doctor said.
Dr. Janani said that in case of fever, parents should not panic when the temperature is high and should give the prescribed dosage of paracetamol. “Do not give repeated doses of paracetamol as it may cause gastritis and injury to the liver,” she said.