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DNA India
08 July 2010
By Deepa Suryanarayan
Mumbai, India

It usually starts with a common cold or a bout of flu; and you are up in a few days. But there is a persistent cough that refuses to go away.

Such a cough is in the air. Doctors say there has been a spurt in this viral cough and every day several people come in with a single complaint – a severe prolonged and persistent cough after a bout of fever.

Doctors blame the cough on infections in the respiratory tract caused by common cold and viral fever. “Every monsoon, there is steep rise in cases of viral fever,” Dr SN Acharya, general practitioner, said. “The virus finds the humid conditions favourable and it survives in water droplets. Viral fever also tends to spreads fast during the monsoon.” The doctor said that respiratory tract infections are followed by viral coughs.

Dr Sanjay Adhik, general practitioner, said mostly it disappears in a few days. “But this monsoon I have seen it lasting well over a month,” he said. “Initially, when I found that cough syrups were not providing any relief, I asked a few of my patients to get a chest X-ray done, just to rule out the possibility of a bigger illness.” Several general physicians in the city said that they had seen people with coughs lasting for more than a month. Almost in all the patients, the viral fever had been cured in a few days.

“But with so many cases, we have realised that this is probably because of an inflammation in the airways, caused by an infection in the respiratory tract,” Dr Ashok Rathod, paediatrician, said. “It takes a lot of time to clear. “I have had to prescribe cough suppressants as well as ask patients to go for steam inhalation as it relaxes and opens the respiratory tract.”

At a health camp organised by the BMC’s health department on Wednesday, 214 people were found to have had coughs for almost a month.

Several chemists in the city and suburbs too reported a rise in the sales of cough syrups. “We have seen a rise in demand for all brands of cough syrups,” a salesperson at National Chemists, Parel, said.

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