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 Common Cold The common cold is a viral infection. It's one of the most common illnesses people get. Colds spread easily from person to person, especially within the first 2 days of symptoms Symptoms include... read more and flu Influenza (Flu) Influenza, often called the flu, is a viral infection that affects your lungs and airways. Flu symptoms are a little bit like the common cold but are much more severe. The flu spreads easily... read more .
Upper respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, affect mostly the nose and throat.
Lower respiratory infections, such as croup Croup Croup is swelling in the windpipe and voice box. It’s caused by a virus infection and is most common in children ages 6 months to 3 years. Children with croup have a cough that sounds like barking... read more , bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis Bronchioles are small airways in your lungs. "-Itis" means inflammation. So bronchiolitis is inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. The inflammation makes it hard for children to breathe... read more , and pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia is an infection deep in your lungs. The infection involves the small air sacs in your lungs (alveoli). Pneumonia is different from infection of the air passages (bronchi) in your lungs... read more , affect mostly the lungs and airways.
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 Influenza Vaccine The influenza virus vaccine helps protect against influenza. Two types of influenza virus, type A and type B, regularly cause seasonal epidemics of influenza in the United States. There are... read more 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 Asthma in Children Asthma causes the airways to become narrow, which makes it hard for your child to breathe. Asthma often starts in childhood, especially before age 5. Many common things can trigger asthma attacks... read more .
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: