Kids' Health

6 Common Causes of Respiratory Problems in Children

Pediatric respiratory illnesses are great challenges to the emergency department. It is one of the most common reasons why parents take kids to the emergency room. Yet, such illnesses are quite common. 

The upper respiratory system comprises the nose, lungs, throat, and mouth. It is the system through which you breathe in and out life-sustaining air. Yet, every inhalation brings with it many factors that could lead to illness.

Children are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems. Their immune systems aren’t as strong as that of adults. As a parent, you’ll find yourself dealing with constant nose and throat infections.

Running or stuffy noses become the order of the day. You find yourself fighting constant coughs and fever. The medicine cabinet, more often than not, contains fever and pain-relieving medication. Antihistamines are also a staple in the medicine cabinet.  

Our article will explore six common causes of respiratory problems in children. Some are beyond your control. Yet, others need simple preventive steps on your part. You will realize lower incidences of respiratory problems.

Respiratory Problems in Children: Common Causes

There are many respiratory diseases that your child can get. Such include influenza, the common cold, and asthma. Statistics on asthma in the US are quite sobering.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that more than 6 million children may have some level of asthma.

Unfortunately, the list of respiratory problems does not stop there. Others include bronchitis, sinusitis, croup, strep throat, and pneumonia. It is critical as a parent to protect your children. It starts by knowing some of the common causes of respiratory problems. Let’s get into it.  

1.   Factors Within the Home

There is pollution in the air.  It comes from dust, industrial emissions, and even the cars we drive around in. the reality is there is not too much you can do about external pollution.  But, you can try and reduce the effects within the home.  It is vital to keep your house dust-free as much as possible.

Pay due consideration to how you clean the home. Mopping, vacuuming, and dusting should be part of your daily routine. Air duct cleaning is also critical to ensure the air that circulates within the home is dust-free. Proper cleaning of the air ducts will also remove mold which can lead to serious respiratory issues.

 Also, watch out for the following within the home.

  • Do not allow indoor smoking if there are small children in the home. Long-term exposure to cigarette smoke is a huge risk. It can lead to lung problems and respiratory diseases. Smoking during pregnancy can result in respiratory problems and asthma in the newborn.
  • Be careful about the chemical cleaners and aerosols you use. Some can cause infections. Others can exacerbate problems for people with allergies or lung problems
  • House plants can lead to allergic reactions
  • If you suspect there is asbestos on the property, carry out a home inspection. Long-term exposure to asbestos and radon gas can result in respiratory illnesses
  • Be careful about using fireplaces in the home. Smoke inhalation can be dangerous to young children.

2.   Viral Infections

Viral infections are to blame for several respiratory illnesses. Such include influenza. Common cold and croup. Viral infections have no treatment; what you can do is manage the symptoms.  Most will typically go away after about a week.

There may, however, be more severe infections such as bronchiolitis. It attacks the lower respiratory system comprising lungs and bronchial tubes.  

Take advantage of home treatments to relieve some of the symptoms.  If it gets worse, you can try over-the-counter medications. Do not give antibiotics for viral infections as they will have no effect. What you could end up doing is increasing your child’s resistance to the antibiotics.   

3.   Bacterial Infections

 Bacterial infections are common, especially in the upper respiratory systems. The children can get sinus infections and bacterial pneumonia. They are also susceptible to getting tuberculosis that attacks the lower respiratory system.  

4.   Allergies

Children face constant exposure to several allergens. Dust, pollen, fungi, and moss spores are some of the main culprits. 

Domestic animals may also be a source of allergens. Hair, saliva, excrement, and feathers can cause issues.

You must also be careful about the food and drugs you give the children. Honey, proteins, and fish are some risky foods. Drugs like antibiotics, immunological drugs, and sulfanilamide can cause problems.  

Symptoms of allergic reactions include a stuffy nose. In some instances, the nose may run and discharge a clear fluid. They may also sneeze and have watery eyes. You may also have to contend with poor appetite and irritability. In such cases, an antihistamine can help manage some of the symptoms.

5.   Asthma

 Asthma is another common cause of respiratory illnesses. The symptoms will start to present as the child grows older. Watch out for a hacking cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.  In more severe cases, there could be difficulty breathing.  

6.   Airway Blockages

Be careful about objects lying around if you have small children in the house. It also pays to watch what kind of toys you buy the kids. At a certain age, kids will explore things with their mouths.

They may end up swallowing some of them.  It is not uncommon to hear cases where children have swallowed buttons. Others choke on removable toy parts. Blockage of the airway can lead to serious respiratory problems.  

Final Thoughts

We have looked at six common causes of respiratory illnesses in children. It can be difficult to control some of them because of the nature of kids. They will want to play outside, thus exposing themselves to allergens.

At school or the park, they will mingle with other children. Viral infections, for example, spread easily. So unless you keep the kids in the house in a vacuum, you may not be able to avoid some of the issues. 

It helps to be aware of what can put children at risk. Keep your home dust-free. Clean the air ducts to avoid the buildup of mold and dirt.

Also, educate yourself on the severity of some of the symptoms. It helps to know when you need to rush the kids to the hospital.


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