Linda S. Nield, MD


How to Handle Chronic Cough in Kids:

December 01, 2003

ABSTRACT: A cough is considered chronic when it persists for 3 or more weeks. Typically, chronic cough is a lingering manifestation of a viral upper respiratory tract infection; other, more serious causes-such as asthma, sinusitis, or gastro- esophageal reflux-must also be considered. Look to the history for diagnostic clues and order a chest film, which may point to pneumonia, hyperinflation, atelectasis, or cardiac or pulmonary abnormality. Diagnostic test methods will depend, in part, on the child's age; for example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against imaging of the sinuses in children 6 years or younger. Pulmonary function tests can be useful in diagnosing asthma if the child is able to cooperate. Consider ordering a barium swallow for a very young child whose cough may be the result of a vascular anomaly. A pH probe study can help you determine whether cough is secondary to gastroesophageal reflux. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause.

Infant Colic:

April 01, 2003

ABSTRACT: Infant colic is a diagnosis of exclusion; its true cause is not known. To rule out alternative diagnoses, obtain a detailed history, look for clues to an underlying organic disease or genetic syndrome, and perform regular head-to-toe physical examinations. The interventions most commonly used to treat colic include modification of parental behavior (such as increased carrying of the infant or decreased infant stimulation), milk- and/or soy-free formulas, modifications in the diet of a breast-feeding mother, soothing measures (such as car rides, rocking, or use of a pacifier), anticholinergic agents, sedatives, and alternative medicine approaches (such as sucrose solution, herbal teas, or infant massage). The medications used to treat colic-such as antispasmodics and anticholinergics-can have serious adverse effects; discuss the pros and cons of drug therapy with parents before prescribing these agents. Remind parents that colic resolves by age 3 to 4 months, regardless of the intervention used.