What are the most common respiratory diseases in children?

During the rainy season it is very common for peaks of respiratory diseases to occur, it is at this time when children are more likely to develop this type of disease, that is why we consult with Dr. Lina Robayo, pediatrician at the Shaio Clinic, already which is one of the first causes of medical consultation in children under 5 years of age.

What are respiratory diseases?

Respiratory infections are those diseases that affect the airways and lungs, they can be bacterial or viral and can be classified into high and low infections, some of the most common are:

High infections

  • Nasopharyngitis or common flu: it is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa and pharynx, and symptoms include headache, sneezing, cough, fever and chills.

  • Acute pharyngoatonsillitis: just like the common cold, there is also inflammation in the pharynx, it can alter the voice making it difficult to speak, other symptoms are cough and pain in the throat.

These diseases can develop into otitis or sinusitis

Infections bso

  • Pneumonia: these are acute respiratory infections in the lungs, which are formed by small sacs (alveoli) where air enters with oxygen, which when filled with inflammatory liquid limits its entry. It develops from exposure to bacteria, viruses or even fungi.

  • Bronchiolitis: is a viral infection in children under 2 years of age, it manifests itself as a swelling and accumulation of mucus in the distal airways called bronchioles, which makes it difficult for air and oxygen to pass through, causing wheezing when breathing (wheezing).

Why do respiratory diseases occur?

Any respiratory disease can generally be caused by exposure to viruses or bacteria, in children it is more common to be caused by viral infections such as adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, rhinovirus, metapneumovirus and coronavirus. They are caused by contact with droplets or secessions when talking, coughing, sneezing and coming into close contact with sick people.

The diseases respiratory can become chronic?

There are chronic lung diseases that are risk factors for a respiratory infection to have a more severe course in children younger than 3 months, children with a history of premature birth, with chronic lung diseases such as pulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis, immunodeficiency and with heart disease.

When should you consult a doctor?

It is important to know that if a child shows any abnormal respiratory symptoms, the doctor must be consulted, be very careful if:

  • The child is breathing faster than usual.

  • If breathing is marked or there is restriction of the child’s ribs.

  • If there is fluttering in the nose when breathing.

  • If there is purple discoloration around the lips.

  • High, persistent fever that cannot be controlled.

  • If symptoms persist for more than 48 or 72 hours.

  • If the child is sleepy.

  • If the child has no appetite and poor acceptance of liquids or breast milk.

How to prevent a child from having a respiratory disease?

It is inevitable that a child does not acquire a respiratory disease or another type, because it can easily be infected by viruses or bacteria through contact with caregivers, family and the environment. To prevent it from happening frequently it is important to:

  • Having hygiene habits, hand washing with soap and water is important in all age groups, mothers before breastfeeding, feeding children and when a medicine will be supplied.

  • Make sure the vaccination schedule is up to date for age. The seasonal flu vaccine must be administered annually after the first year of life, and preferably in the first half of the year.

  • Avoid contact with smokers, as it is a risk factor for acquiring respiratory diseases and complications associated with them.

  • In children younger than 6 months, exclusive breastfeeding is a protective factor for upper and lower respiratory diseases.

  • In children older than 6 months, maintain a varied diet of fruits, vegetables and proteins accompanied by breast milk, this allows for sufficient nutrients and vitamins that strengthen the immune system against these recurring diseases.

How to treat respiratory disease when a child has it?

It is important to monitor the child’s breathing pattern, as it is the warning signs that help to suspect if the child has any complications that require consulting the doctor:

  • In the case of a nursing infant, it is important to keep the airway clear by nasal irrigation, either with saline or saline nasal spray, and to maintain breastfeeding when you need it and for as long as you need it.

  • For children older than 6 months, it is also important to keep the airways clear of mucus and do constant nasal washing, keep them hydrated with water, breast milk or formula and it is essential that they are fed well.

  • Do not self-medicate them, since antitussive medicines are not used in children, therefore do not give medicines that prevent coughing, or antibiotics that are not prescribed by the pediatrician.

At the Shaio Clinic Foundation we have a Pediatric Unit that treats and accompanies children with complex pathologies, we have services in general paediatrics, pulmonology, nephrology, cardiology and ICU and ECMO support.

This article had the advice of Dr. Lina Robayo, pediatrician and breastfeeding counselor at Clínica Shaio.

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