Respiratory Infections in Children

The respiratory tract is vulnerable because of its exposure to outside bacteria, and this is especially true of a child’s respiratory tract. The main two classifications of these infections are upper respiratory tract infections, or URIs, and lower respiratory tract infections, or LRIs.

Knowing when to seek medical attention is crucial because of the consequences that untreated repository infections can have. Children are particularly prone to respiratory infections because their immune systems are not as strong when fighting against these viruses and harmful germs.

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Types of Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory tract infections include even the common head cold, meaning that sometimes URIs can be treated from home. Also included are the mild flu, a sinus infection, tonsillitis, and laryngitis.

Lower respiratory infections include bronchitis, pneumonia, a chest infection, and bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis typically only affects young children.

Symptoms of Common URIs

  • Common cold
    • Sore throat
    • Sneezing
    • Coughing
    • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Tonsillitis
    • Red, swollen tonsils
    • Sore throat
    • Yellow or white spots on tonsils
    • Pain when swallowing
    • Fever
  • Laryngitis
    • Dry and chronic cough
    • Tickling or rawness of throat
    • Hoarseness or weak voice
    • Fever

LRIs and Their Symptoms

  • Pneumonia
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or shallow breathing
    • Sharp pain in the chest
    • Loss of appetite and general fatigue
  • Bronchitis
    • Chronic, dry cough
    • Soreness of the chest
    • Mild headache and body aches
  • Tuberculosis
    • Loss of appetite and weight loss
    • A cough lasting weeks
    • Fever
    • Night sweats or chills

When Are Children Most Susceptible?

Babies under the age of 2 years old are especially likely to be affected by respiratory infections, mostly due to their underdeveloped immune systems. Children around 6 years old and under are all highly vulnerable, though.

Children around the age of 6 average 6 to 8 infections per year, often mild cases of the flu or head colds. By the age of 2, a child is likely to have had at least one infection.

Flu season lasts from October to May, so watch for symptoms of potential respiratory infections in your children around this time.

When To See a Doctor

Colds and mild infections can often be resolved on their own or with care from home. If your child has a fever of or around 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 or 3 days, seek medical attention. Severe difficulty breathing, wheezing, or shortness of breath should be a sign to see a doctor, as well.

Seek professional attention if symptoms are not resolved after 10 days, especially if symptoms are worsening.


If your child is suffering from a respiratory infection, there are many treatments available to relieve their symptoms and increase recovery speed. The easiest, most accessible treatment is rest and basic self-care.

Other remedies include nasal decongestants to help improve breathing, cough medicine, and antihistamines to combat symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and itching. Care such as hydration, nasal washing, and gargling with salt water can help as well.

One should watch for signs and symptoms of serious respiratory infection to know when to provide help. Contact an experienced professional today if you are concerned about your child’s respiratory health.