Children frequently suffer from respiratory diseases, ranging from a common cold to severe pneumonia. These diseases are known as Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI). They can be located in the upper respiratory tract: nose (rhinitis), pharynx (pharyngitis), larynx (laryngitis) and trachea or in the lower part: bronchi and lungs (bronchitis, bronchiolitis, bronchiolitis or pneumonia).
In the case of children, the ARI are mostly caused by virus infections and, less frequently, by bacteria. Every time you get sick, the child produces antibodies (defenses) against the specific virus, but these are not useful for other viruses. There are not suitable medicines to fight against them, except in very serious cases. In these ones, the treatment seeks to reduce the symptoms, while the body produces antibodies.
Antibiotics destroy bacteria, but they must be prescribed by a doctor because they have to respond to the precise bacteria that causes the infection.
It is not recommendable to take antibiotics without a prescription, due to the fact that bacteria learn how to defend themselves and become resistant. Fever or green mucus don’t indicate neither the need of antibiotics: the doctor must take into account all the symptoms to infer if there is a bacterial infection that can be combated using antibiotics.
Antibiotics destroy bacteria, but they must be prescribed by a doctor because they have to respond to the precise bacteria that causes the infection
When a virus or bacteria enters into the respiratory system, the latter defends itself increasing normally lubricated mucus amount, in order to avoid that the virus could affect the cells and trying to remove it from the body. The organism tries to expel mucus by sneezing. If this is not possible and the infection progresses, the nasal mucosa becomes inflamed and the nose stuffy, which constitute cold symptoms. As germs don’t stay in one only place, they continue invading the respiratory system; first, causing sore throat, hoarseness or burning sensation and later, affecting the larynx and vocal cords, which causes hoarseness or dry cough.
In any of these cases, the treatment seeks to alleviate the symptoms. This one is simply restricted to take plenty of drinks that relieve throat, like tea or lemonade with honey, and make nasal washes to clean the excess of secretions.
The organism’s behavior in order to escape from the virus or bacteria is the same in the lower part. The trachea and bronchi can be considered as a system of pipes, tubes that divided in tiny tubes ending each of them in an alveolus, the place where oxygen exchange happens. If the cough does not expel the germs and viruses or the bacteria, these ones arrive to the trachea or bronchi, the mucosa inflames and the tubes get narrower. When the air enters, it sounds similar to a whistle. The arrival and exchange of oxygen gets more complicated causing respiratory distress. These symptoms are observed in tracheitis, bronchitis and bronchiolitis.
As cough constitutes a body defense to expel germs, it is not suitable to inhibit it using antitussive syrups. These ones make secretions to be trapped in the bronchi and alveoli, where they can produce more severe infections known as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
In case of wheezing or chest sounds (like a boiling pot) that could cause secretions, breathing troubles or other breathing difficulties, children must undergo a medical examination.
During their first five or six years, children suffer from many respiratory infections. The reason is that they have not yet created their immune file, which consists on their defenses against different types of germs. This is even emphasized due to their contact with other children who often get sick and the germs transmitted through coughing, runny nose cleaned with hands and shared toys. Consequently, it is recommended that children who present respiratory infection symptoms do not attend the kindergarten or play with other children, and mainly, that these children and the adults who accompany them wash frequently their hands.
In case of wheezing or chest sounds (like a boiling pot) that could cause secretions, breathing troubles or other breathing difficulties, children must undergo a medical examination
Nevertheless, there are other preventive measures. It is important to include fruit in child's diet and clean regularly his plush toys and books to remove dust. Pets should be only rejected in case of confirmed allergies. The use of scarves and ski masks are not very effective as preventive methods. Getting obsessed in order to avoid children breathing cold air is not recommendable neither; the nasal cavity had the mission of heating the air. Nevertheless, scarves are useful to avoid a cough crisis in the case of those children suffering from asthma or an infection.
In the case of premature children, ARI may have a more severe evolution, so, in some situations, taking a vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (the cause of bronchiolitis) can be recommendable. The reason is that, when this virus affects to a premature baby, it can facilitate the appearance asthma.