Common cough/cold, Diarrohoea & Vomiting in children!

This Monday was the busiest in A&E (I think busiest ever in the history of Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust). I personally saw around 20-25 kids and advised on another 30-35. Most had Diarrhoea and vomiting, coughs and colds!
It’s a very common occurrence in children less than 5 years of age. Fortunately, most of these are caused by ‘viruses’ and thereby don’t need antibiotics!  Babies acquire various protective antibodies from mother which wean off within first few months. After that they get multiple infections with different viruses (and bacteria sometimes) and develops immunity against them. The serious ones which were quite common in the past are now protected by ‘Immunisations’ have reduced dramatically in recent times, due to mass vaccination and ‘herd immunity’.  Those who choose ‘not to immunise’ their children are not doing any good for their children, or the community, for that matter.

Over time, children have seen most viruses and have acquired immunity against the common ones. Usually by the age of 5, the rate of infections go down and children develop  a robust immune system. Infections before that age are more common if children go to nursery/play school etc. where they share each others germs and also transfer them to their siblings. In a way, it’s good to be exposed to multiple viruses as your immune system then responds and develops “memory” against multiple viruses and bacteria.

One should not worry too much about recurrent infections as long as children are recovering quickly and are otherwise growing normally. Antibiotics are not advised for minor illnesses as they are usually viral in nature and antibiotics, if given, will lead to development of resistance in the bacteria. Regular antipyretics should be given if the temperature is high and the child is distressed with it. There are certain ‘red flags’, like difficulty in breathing, non-blanching rash etc., which could indicate serious bacterial infection and one should seek immediate medical attention. Inability to liquids down also can be a worry as they ay get dehydrated.