The most common types of respiratory conditions in children are viral respiratory tract infections. These includes the common cold, influenza (the flu), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). These viruses generally affect the upper respiratory tract, and your child will probably have a fever, runny nose, and cough, and he or she will probably be irritable for about four to 10 days, until the virus passes. However, if your child develops a more severe infection, the virus could turn into croup, bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Pneumonia may also be caused by bacterial infections and these tend to be more serious than viral infections. Croup, bronchiolitis and pneumonia affect the lower respiratory tract, causing inflammation of the small air tubules in the lower lungs and blocking them with mucous and swelling. This makes it difficult for your child to breathe, and he or she might experience wheezing and rapid breathing, and, with croup, your child may have a cough that sounds like a dog barking. These conditions need immediate attention from your healthcare provider, so make an appointment with your child’s doctor ASAP.
Many children suffer from asthma. Asthma may be triggered by a variety of factors, including allergies to food, cold air, exercise and allergens in the air, such as dust mites, mold, pollen or cigarette smoke. The allergens cause your child’s bronchi and bronchioles, which are the airway tubes that branch off from the trachea, to become inflamed and produce thick mucous. In addition, the chest muscles become tight and cause the airways to narrow. This makes it difficult for your child to breathe. Many children outgrow their asthma and, in the meantime, asthma can be treated and managed using medications and nebulizers.