Researchers in Australia have found that children treated for lung infections in hospitals often have a chronic cough that lasts for weeks after they go home.
The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, involved 839 children under the age of 15 who were treated for lung infections in hospitals. Following their release from hospital, each child was monitored on a weekly basis for a total of four weeks.
Around 75% of the children had a cough one week after going home. After 4 weeks, one in four of the children still had a cough, and were referred to a paediatric lung specialist. Of these children, 47% were diagnosed with bacterial bronchitis – a lung infection that can be treated with antibiotics, and 30% were diagnosed with a long-term lung condition.
The study did not set out to find out if or how a lung infection could lead to a chronic cough or long-term condition in children – and it is worth noting that all participants were treated for their condition in hospital rather than a GP surgery.
Nonetheless, the study highlights the importance of diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, a long-term cough could lead to permanent damage to the lungs. The scientists therefore recommend that parents seek medical advice if their child still has a cough 4 weeks after being treated for a lung infection.
Learn about the factors that can cause lung disease and the ways to reduce your contact with them.
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