Respiratory diseases are extremely common. Diseases that impact the respiratory system can affect the nose, throat and lungs.
The types of problem often vary according to the age of the child.
There are two types of respiratory diseases that we see in childhood.
- Upper airway diseases such as colds, sinusitis, ear infections and hayfever are common
- Bronchiolitis is seen more commonly in the young child
- Cystic fibrosis
Why do children get respiratory infections?
The human respiratory tract is open to the outside world to allow us to breathe but that makes it an easy point of entry for germs that can potentially cause illness. Children who have not yet built up immunity to common viruses and bacteria that can cause such problems and are therefore vulnerable.
What do I need to know about respiratory infections in children
- Very common, particularly in children attending daycare, school or in children with siblings.
- Having up to six respiratory infections per year can be normal.
- Some uncomplicated respiratory infections can last up to two weeks.
- Many respiratory symptoms overlap.
What are the common symptoms in uncomplicated respiratory illnesses?
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Red eyes
- Swollen lymph nodes
What are the symptoms that may cause you to seek medical advice?
- Breathing fast
- Difficulty breathing
- Stops playing or talking
- Strange sounds – Wheezing & Stridor
Symptoms for the common cold typically include:
- Runny nose.
- Sore throat.
- Headache and body aches
Common colds are caused by viruses that are “typically less severe than influenza and have a lower risk of causing a secondary pneumonia,”
Asthma in children often present with
- Chest tightness or pressure.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Wheezing or whistling when exhaling.
Kids are more likely to have allergies in addition to asthma than adults are. Asthma attacks can be triggered by a number of factors, such as inhaling dust or pollen or exposure to an allergen and viral infections. Asthma can put children at higher risk of bronchitis or pneumonia.
Croup, also called laryngotracheobronchitis, is usually caused by a virus that causes swelling in the upper airway. They typically have a barking cough and when severe they have a raspy noisy when breathing. You child’s voice may sound huskier than normal, too. It is usually preceded by a cold and followed by rapid onset in breathing difficulties, often at night.
Pneumonia - Symptoms include
• Rapid and difficulty breathing.
• High fever.
• Pain in the chest, especially when breathing.