Cough and Chest Infection

These three words are used synanomously in UK and is now very difficult to re-educate people who demand antibiotics.

Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD), this was olds term used to explain asthma  Medical literatures do not classify cold as a disease but use the term “Common Cold”. The name “Cold” was also claimed to be an illness (pre-medical era) that occurred during the cold season. Common cold can last about one-two weeks and may start with a cough and bringing up phlegm (note in Pneumonia cough occurs when you are getting better; end of the illness).

It’s very common children to get coughs and colds, especially when they go to school and mix with other children. If the symptoms persist and you are concerned, see your doctor but you shouldn’t necessarily expect to be prescribed antibiotics.

Recurrent colds is more likely due to be Asthma (this is not a disease but a illness with collection of symptoms) and is not necessarily due to virus or bacteria. Here the cough is usually dry, occurs more often in the early hours every morning, may be precipitated with cold wind. Children often cough after they run or when they are playing or performing exercise, swimming.

The best treatment will be to take inhalers (for dry cough) and nasal spray (for runny nose) and see if the child or you find it helps. Constant runny nose will result in “Harrison sulcus” a horizontal line on your nose when the child grows up. This is because the child is constantly using the fore arm to wipe the snot out from the nose.

People often tell me, they catch a cold (runny nose often used synonymously with cold), it goes straight to the chest. Yes, it does because the nose is connected to the air ways and water dripping from your nose will drip backwards when you lay down (postnatal drip) and irritate the lungs. If we did not have cough reflux, we all would be drowned with our own secretions. The body tries hard to keep our air ways clean from dust, allergens and fluid over load.

Common Cold are due to various viral infections, they are much more common than bacterial infections and are not serious. Antibiotics do not work against infections, such as colds, caused by viruses. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms – paracetamol, for example.

“Cough & Cold Remedies Don’t Work, they only suppress the relax and must not be given for children”


Cough is a reflex and not a disease. If we don’t have coughing relax, we will all be buried in our own secretions. Our lungs must be free from secretions to help absorb oxygen. In Asthma, our lungs produce excessive secretions due to some irritation (allergy). These secretions are produced to wash out the allergens and so need to be coughed out. The passage through which the secretions are coughed out have cells which secrete secretions, they are swollen and so the airways are closed.

Taking inhalers helps to open the passage for accumulated fluid to be coughed out. People stop using inhaler because the inhaler makes them cough more. Having a good bout of coughing fit after taking inhaler is a good thing because most of the secretions are coughed out.

Drugs do not stop our lungs producing excessive fluid (if we do we can cure your asthma). Some people start using cough mixtures to stop coughing, this is not a good thing to do because the secretions which are accumulated in the lung must be coughed out to feel better. “Cough & Cold Remedies Don’t Work”

Normal air way for air to enter lungs Collapsed air with mucus blocking passage

Some doctors prescribe antibiotics if you tell them your cough is getting worse after using inhalers. Inhaler is to help you open airways and coughing is necessary to clear the chest. We must avoid temptation to treat this with antibiotics. Asthmatics may need steroids, antibiotics only if they are not responding (have wheeze, dry cough and still breathless) after using inhalers.

Pneumonia produces cough but the coughing is seen only when you are getting better. Initially the lung becomes hard, people cant breath but start grunting and have air hunger. They often are pale, blue and struggling to breath. Once this stage pass off (antibiotic in large dose help), the liquefied lung tissue with dead bacteria must be coughed out.

Cough due to viral infections (even in HIV patients) are often dry. This is because the lung walls thicken up and the air cannot pass through. They do not cough out phlegm and have dry hacking cough almost bursting out your tummy to produce hernias

Cough due to allergy occurs spontaneously and in the beginning of your illness (Cold, Runny nose, Hay fever, aspiration) where as cough due to serious chest infections (Pneumonia, TB) occurs when the infection is getting better. Using cough mixture to suppress cough is not a good idea. The body is trying to get rid of excessive fluid, dead bugs and mucus from your chest. By suppressing cough (using cough mixture) you will prolong the discomfort and your symptoms.

Some believe Inhalers are addictive, unfortunately they are necessary and are not associated with addiction.

All about cough in a child you need to know

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