Home treatment can help
relieve the child's symptoms. The infection usually improves on its own within
a week and is gone within 14 days.
Antibiotics are not used to
treat viral illnesses and do not alter the course of viral infections.
Unnecessary use of an antibiotic exposes your child to the risks of an
allergic reaction and antibiotic side effects, such as
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics also may
kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous
lower respiratory system infections may be mild, similar to upper respiratory
system infections. An example of a possibly serious viral infection is
bronchiolitis. Up to 10% of babies and children with
viral infections of the lower respiratory system, such as those caused by
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), may develop severe
blockage of the air passages and require hospitalization for treatment. For
more information, see the topics
Acute Bronchitis, Pneumonia, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection.
The most common sites for
bacterial infections in the upper respiratory system are the sinuses and
sinus infection is an example of an upper respiratory
pneumonia may follow a viral illness as a secondary infection or appear as the
first sign of a lower respiratory infection. In babies and small children, the
first sign of infection often is rapid breathing, irritability, decreased
activity, and poor feeding. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial
Tuberculosis is a less common bacterial
infection of the lower respiratory system.
Allergies are a common cause of
respiratory problems. Allergy symptoms in children include:
- Clear, runny drainage from the nose or a stuffy nose. Children
often rub their noses by pushing the tip upward with the palm of the hand
- Sneezing and watery eyes. Often there are dark circles under the
eyes ("allergic shiners").
- Irritability and loss of appetite.
Babies and small children usually do not have
asthma. But the number of new cases of asthma
increases with age.
- In babies and small children, a hacking cough may be the only
symptom of mild asthma.
- If asthma worsens, symptoms may include wheezing and shortness of
breath after exercise or at nighttime.
- In severe asthma, difficulty breathing (using the neck, chest,
and abdominal muscles to breathe) and a high-pitched sound when breathing
(wheezing) are the most common symptoms.
- Allergies and asthma often occur together. For more information,
see the topic
Asthma in Children.