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Which is the safer medicine for cough in children?

Q: My child got cough for a week and when I consulted the physician, she suggested asthma medication since of his parents has the allergy. I am scared to use this medicine because I heard it has side effects. Can you compare this medicine with Indian drugs and let me know, which is less harmful - Albuterol inhaler, Singulair and Montelukast sodium?

A:There can be a dozen or more causes of cough for a week or so. One cannot diagnose asthma based on just this symptom alone or even the fact that one of the two parents suffers from allergy. Clinically there should be three symptoms: cough, breathlessness and wheezing. Out of these three, wheezing is most important. Accompanying these symptoms is nearly always a rapid pulse rate. In addition does the child wake up at night with either wheezing or breathlessness? To confirm the diagnosis one needs to do simple spirometry. Both the medicines: Albuterol and Singulair are indicated in the treatment of asthma. Singulair is an add on therapy in patients who do not respond to inhaled steroids and other antiasthma medicines. There is a set procedure of treating confirmed asthma in children on a step-up approach basis i.e. start with minimal medication in minimal dose and then increase the dose and/or add other medicines.

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