Coughs, sneezes and runny noses are common occurrences in children. However, that doesn’t mean parents should take these symptoms lightly, especially when they start causing sleepless nights or impairing your child’s concentration throughout the day. Understanding the origins of a prolonged acute cough and addressing the symptoms early on can help prevent discomfort for the child and save the family unnecessary headaches.
A cough is the body’s self-protection mechanism, a reflex which helps to clear the breathing passages from secretions, irritants and microbes. For children suffering from allergies, coughing is a common symptom.
Before making a diagnosis, a doctor will want to rule out all causes of the child’s cough, such as a respiratory tract infection, post-nasal drip, invasive pneumonia or tuberculosis, which are all caused by lower respiratory infections. If the constant coughing has disturbed the child’s sleep and daily life, a chest X-ray is recommended to find out the precise cause for targeted treatment.
The symptoms of seasonal allergies and the common cold are very similar. About a quarter of the population in Hong Kong has some form of nasal allergies, especially during the turn of the seasons, which is also when children suffer most. Often, parents find it hard to discern whether their child’s sneezing and stuffy, runny nose is a cold or a nasal allergy.
The good news is, if parents pay close attention to minor details, they can easily tell the difference. If the symptoms persist despite treatment and lots of rest, then nasal allergies are generally to blame. The common allergens are dust mites, air pollutants, animal fur, insect’s feces and passive smoking.
Children who suffer from allergies without getting appropriate treatment can become irritable and moody, as chronic nasal congestion can make it hard for a child to get enough sleep. A doctor may medicate through oral drugs or an inhaled steroid spray once non-medical treatments, including household sanitation and allergens prevention, have proved unsuccessful.
If you’re concerned that your child has allergies, please consult your doctor.