Overview of Viral Respiratory Tract Infections in Children
Your respiratory tract is your breathing passages. It includes your nose, throat, windpipe, and your lungs and their airways. Many viruses can infect your respiratory tract. Common viral respiratory tract infections include the common cold and flu.
Upper respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, affect mostly the nose and throat.
On average, children get 6 viral respiratory infections a year—the infections tend to spread from child to child in day care centers and schools
Viral respiratory tract infections cause a runny nose, cough, and scratchy throat
Most infections aren't severe, but some infections cause dangerous breathing problems
Washing hands helps prevent these infections from spreading
The flu vaccine prevents flu, but there aren't any vaccines for colds or other viral respiratory tract infections
Many different viruses cause respiratory tract infections. Children get these infections from other children who are sick. Mucus from a sick child's runny nose is full of viruses. The mucus gets on children's hands and whatever the children touch gets covered with viruses. If healthy children touch something covered with viruses and then touch their nose or mouth, they can get the infection.
Viral respiratory tract infections spread easily among groups of children, such as children in child care centers or schools.
Often, viral respiratory infections trigger asthma attacks in children with asthma.
A severe infection can cause:
Doctors will have your child:
To ease symptoms in babies and young children, it may help to:
Antibiotics won't help and aren't needed to treat viral respiratory tract infections.
To keep infections from spreading:
Wash your hands and your child's hands often
Keep sick children home from school or day care
Get the flu vaccine for all adults and children 6 months or older