Seeing their baby wheeze and whistle is every parent’s worst nightmare. Often, seeking timely help can make all the difference.
With most Indian metros increasingly being cloaked in a toxic haze, India’s youngest souls are becoming soft targets for respiratory infections and disorders. And with research indicating acute respiratory infections as one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity among children under 5 years, we’re faced with a burning question. What, pray, are the symptoms to watch for and what are the solutions?
What Are the Most Common Paediatric Respiratory Diseases?
There are a number of diseases that have gained notoriety as paediatric predators in recent years. Here’s a look at the most common of the bunch.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Like infectious diseases, upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) commonly prey on young children. They are caused by an acute infection that usually spreads across the upper respiratory tract, affecting the sinuses, nose, pharynx and larynx. URTIs present various symptoms including a sore throat, nasal obstruction, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, a cold and whooping cough. URTIs can be viral, bacterial or fungal, although the former is most prevalent.
Incessant coughing, complaints of chest pain or a mild fever compromising your little munchkin’s sleep and spirit?
Consider having your child checked for pneumonia, a lung disease caused by severe pneumococcal disease. The condition usually presents symptoms like a cough, chest pain, fever and breathing problems. Left untreated, pneumococcal bacteria can also penetrate the upper respiratory tract and proliferate into the lungs, middle ear, nervous system and bloodstream. Although most infections are mild, some can cause permanent damage including brain damage and hearing loss. Children under 5 are most susceptible to the condition.
A barky cough is a hallmark of bronchitis, so if that’s what you hear, it’s wise to have your child assessed for the condition. As a common URTI, bronchitis is spread virally and can appear as a subset of symptoms associated with the common cold, flu, whooping cough or measles. Bronchitis presents a typical sequence of symptoms, including a runny nose, a sore throat, a mild fever and a cough. Although a cough usually starts off dry, it eventually morphs into a moist, throaty bark over several days. You may also notice your child wheeze or labor with breathing. Kids exposed to passive smoking are at a higher risk of developing bronchitis, so if you have a smoker in the house, it’s a good idea to designate outdoor smoking zones to minimise fumes indoors.
Asthma Persistent breathlessness and a recurrent cough are classic signs of asthma, and left undiagnosed in your child, can prove fatal. Asthma makes your child hypersensitive to environmental stimuli like viral infections, allergens, gases and even microscopic particles. And while it may take you a while to gauge the severity of your child’s case, seeking a diagnosis and treatment plan can go a long way in giving your munchkin much-needed comfort. If you suspect your child suffers from a respiratory disorder but are having trouble defining the line in the sand, look to these markers to help you along the way:
If your child is diagnosed with a respiratory problem, seek comfort in knowing that there are treatments that can restore your little one’s quality of life. With the right intervention at the right time, you can finally let your child breathe easy.
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