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Very common expressions of pediatricians and their meaning


Doctors, like any professional group, have their own jargon, and many times translating it so that common language is clearly understood is not easy.

Below we reveal some of the expressions that pediatricians use, especially during the fall and winter months.

1. 'It looks like your child has a viral infection.' Often, parents, after leaving the office and hearing this from our voice, are left with the idea that we have told them that their child 'has nothing'. The poor thing has been lying all night coughing, he has not been able to sleep, and the doctor tells me that he has nothing!

Regardless of the fact that there are viruses responsible for serious diseases (let us recall some illustrious examples: HIV, Ebola virus, hepatitis C virus, influenza virus), most of the viruses that cause respiratory infections have a course mild and self-limited.

Which does not necessarily mean that it is not going to complicate: simply, that most often it is not complicated with another process. And that, whatever we do and prescribe what we prescribe, the process will last an average of two weeks until its complete extinction.

What is the origin of this expression? Pediatricians are concerned, especially in children under two years of age, about some bacterial infections that can become generalized, or that have an abrupt and rapidly progressive course (such as meningococcemia).

When, according to our empirical interpretation, it seems to us that the child has a viral infection, we really express that he has a viral infection, but we keep quiet about the joy that we are not having a serious bacterial infection. That is: when you hear about 'that the child has a virus', remember that we are happy for the second part, the one we omitted.

2. 'I don't send you a cough syrup. Cough syrups are not helpful, but also, coughing is good. 'I don't know in the future, but as of today, the available evidence does not support that cough syrups can reduce cough, at least not significantly.

This despairs many parents who come to the consultations looking for a miracle remedy, in this 21st century where robot-assisted surgery is performed or patients with serious arrhythmias wear devices with sensors that save their lives. And there is nothing for something as common and annoying as a cough!

I understand them: I am also a father and I have suffered not a few nights of insomnia. But things are like this. Cough is a defense mechanism, which pursues the mucus to dislodge the airway, since its occupation would have consequences. The most obvious: that the air does not access the alveoli, and that secondarily the blood is not oxygenated.

That's the wonder of a cough: cutting it off would be counterproductive in almost all cases. More in children with recurrent bronchitis. But it is that - I have already told you - cough drugs are not effective. What can we do.

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