Statistically, most children will likely experience some type of respiratory distress before the age of eleven. For some, however, these sometimes scary events may occur several times throughout each year.
There are two parts to the respiratory system that can be affected: the upper respiratory system, which includes the sinuses, nose, mouth, and throat, and the lower respiratory system which is made up of the lungs and bronchial tubes.
Children who suffer from an upper respiratory infection may sound congested, suffer from irritability, restlessness, coughing when lying down, a runny nose, and even a fever that can spike to as high as 105. While lower respiratory infections are less common, children can suffer from them, including symptoms such as shallow coughing, fever (which can also be an indication of pneumonia), difficulty breathing, and wheezing. While both types of infections can mean a trip to your pediatrician’s office, a lower respiratory infection must be addressed immediately.
Viruses are the most common cause of upper respiratory infections and lead to sore throats, the common cold and the flu. These ailments are typical among young children and typically run their course in four to ten days. Home remedies and over-the-counter medications are typically used to treat the symptoms of these infections since antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses.
Bacterial infections are a more serious cause and sometimes lead to bacterial pneumonia – often after a bout with one of the more common viral ailments. Among the first signs of a bacterial infection is rapid breathing, irritability and decreased activity. Antibiotics are typically prescribed and are usually effective for treating bacterial infections.
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of a respiratory illness can help you to identify this problem early. Whenever your child shows the signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, it’s best to have him or her checked by a pediatrician. If after being treated, conditions don’t improve, your best bet is to see the doctor again for further treatment.