Cough and Cold- Viral Infections
Viral infections are the most common cause of fever in children in Pakistan. These are usually associated with runny nose, cough and sneezing. Children can also have associated vomiting and diarrhea.
The good thing about viral infections is that they take their time and go away, and do not do any long term damage to the child. The bad thing is that we do not have a medicine which kills the virus right then and there (except for some medicines when the child has influenza). So we are stuck with these viral infections until they run their course. The normal course is that the illness is worst in the first 2-3 days, then stabilizes in the next couple of days and then resolves completely in 7-10 days. Child needs to be given supportive therapy in this time. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen should be given in age-appropriate doses. Lots of fluids should be given while the child has a cold. For nasal and chest congestion, steam inhalation can be given. Over the counter cough and cold medicines should generally be avoided. Remember that antibiotics are against bacteria, are of no help in viral infections.
Please consult your child's doctor if you have any concerns or if you think your child's cough and cold is unusual and not getting better.
Urdu text courtesy Dr. Khalid Kamal