Where are the mothers in the house? I’m sure you all remember saying to the the doctor “it all started as just cough and catarrh o, Doctor”
I’ve heard this line on several occasions in my clinic and it makes me wonder. Since it was “just” cough and catarrh, why is the child now looking so sick?
The truth is, many at times, the children were truly just having the usual “cough and catarrh” in the initial stages.
But…! The bad news is that it can, and usually does progress to something worse.
The reason for this is because as children, their bodies can’t handle the bugs like adults would. Their immune systems are not as “strong” as adults’. And sadly, many of these children end up having Pneumonia! Yes… Pneumonia!
Pneumonia is when there is an infection in the lungs. Basically, it happens when the bugs causing the usual “cough and catarrh” find their say further down into the chest and get the whole place infected. Statistics show that Pneumonia is the leading cause of deaths in under-five children in Nigeria. And the reason is not farfetched. Many caregivers overlook it as just cough and catarrh, hoping it would “go” as usual.
The child soon develops a fever and that’s when the mother gets worried. But she’d most often buy paracetamol or some other fever-medicine and give the child. Soon, it worsens and the child isn’t feeding well anymore. By this time, both mother and child are now in the hospital, and the child’s siblings at home would have started their own “cough and catarrh” as well. And the vicious cycle continues.
As we always say as doctors, it’s better to “over-treat” than to overlook a serious condition. What seems to many people as just “cough and catarrh” is a precursor to many preventable deaths nationwide and even globally.
So, next time you see your neighbor’s child having just “cough and catarrh”, ask the mother if she has taken the child to the nearby clinic. Help save our children from Pneumonia.
Dr Osunlusi Olufemi