Not all respiratory issues mean your child has COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, now called SARS-CoV-2. Numerous viruses can cause respiratory infections in kids and have always been common, especially in the winter months. In fact, children develop, on average, six respiratory tract infections every year.
The respiratory tract is a gateway to air and oxygen and, potentially, germs that can cause illness. Children are especially vulnerable to illnesses that affect the respiratory tract, which includes the nose, throat, and lungs, because they have not built up immunities to the viruses and bacteria that lead to infections.
The family medical practice team at Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, is here to help you understand the different types of common respiratory infections in kids so that you can best care for your child. Here's what you need to know about common respiratory infections.
There are different types of respiratory infections
Your child can develop an illness in the upper respiratory tract, the lower respiratory tract, or both. Upper respiratory infections usually affect the nose and throat. The cold and flu are common upper respiratory infections. Lower respiratory infections, which include croup and pneumonia, affect the windpipe, airways, and lungs.
Common respiratory infection symptoms
While the flu causes fever and a cold usually does not, many respiratory infections have similar symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Red, watery eyes
- Headaches and body aches
Respiratory infection prevention
There is no way to prevent your child from developing a respiratory infection (unless you keep them away from people), but there are ways to reduce their risk. Prevention measures include:
- Getting a flu vaccine
- Washing hands frequently
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Limiting contact with sick people (and staying home if sick)
Common respiratory infections
Different viruses can lead to respiratory infections in children. Some of these viruses include influenza, rhinoviruses, parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and enteroviruses. Common respiratory infections caused by these viruses include:
The common cold
The common cold is the usual reason kids stay home from school. It's an upper respiratory infection that usually goes away on its own within a few days.
Flu is the only infection that you can reduce your child's risk of developing, or lessen the symptoms if they develop, through a yearly vaccine.
Croup mainly affects toddlers. You can help your toddler through this illness, which lasts about five or six days, by having them rest and keeping them hydrated. Using a humidifier at night may help as well.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV is a common respiratory virus that affects young children. Usually, the symptoms, which include a runny nose and cough, are mild and last one to two weeks. Treatments include keeping your child hydrated, rested, and comfortable.
Is your child not feeling well? Are they complaining of a runny nose, sore throat, or cough? Call Wasatch Peak Family Practice for an appointment today. You can also request an appointment online. Please note that we do not have coronavirus tests available.