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Why isn't my son's dry cough subsiding?

Q: My son is 6 years and 7 months old. He is suffering from dry cough for the past three weeks. Initially he also had fever. I gave him Magadol syrup for fever and Refid syrup for cough, which were prescribed by a child specialist. The fever subsided but the cough continued. We went to another physician who said not to give him Magadol and prescribed Crocin syrup for fever. He had no idea about Refid. He prescribed Benylin for cough. But the cough only worsened. He then prescribed some chewing pills for the cough. But all in vain. He asked for an ESR check up. The TLC count was 12600 and total eosinophil count was 750. Thereafter he prescribed Novamox 250 mg to be given thrice a day along with Benylin syrup twice and Becosule vitamin syrup once every day. Should I continue with this treatment or should I get back to the old child specialist? My husband says Novamox is very powerful and may harm his health. My son is healthy and weighs 34 kg.

A:It is much easier to change the doctors than treat dry cough in children! Dry cough in children can be due to many reasons, the most common being allergy and infections. Absence of fever suggests that it is most likely not due to infection. Chronic cough in children can be induced by passive smoking (parents, siblings and friends), dampness (mould on the walls), air pollution and exhaust smoke. A chronic cough may be the most prominent symptom of asthma. Other causes include chronic diseases of lungs such as cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis. When a child has acute respiratory infection and fails to make the usual recovery with drugs, with persistent dry cough, tiredness and lethargy, a radiograph of the chest is needed to exclude underlying lung disease. Pulmonary tuberculosis is a common cause of chronic cough in children in India and should be excluded if there is a history of exposure to an adult with tuberculosis. Diagnosis is often made with a Mantoux (tuberculin) test, chest x-ray and culture of tubercle bacilli from sputum or stomach washings. A common cause of cough in children is believed to be postnasal discharge following a viral infection. Adenoids also can cause chronic infection by the same mechanism. Thus it is better to consult a paediatrician if there is no relief of symptoms after treatment for a sufficient period. There is a need for investigations now. I can reassure you that novamox (amoxycillin) is a commonly used antibiotic in children and is quite safe if used in appropriate dose and duration. Magadol and crocin are all antipyretics and analgesics and are not needed if the child has no fever. Refid and benylin are antihistaminics which reduce the allergic process, but sometimes induce cough due to the drying of mucosa. They are not permanent solutions for chronic cough, but used for symptomatic relief.

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