The most common diseases in babies: The common cold, bronchiolitis and laryngitis
We can say that a cold or common cold in babies is each of the episodes of nasal obstruction, increased mucus and cough that we commonly have in the winter period and that have earned young children the nickname “snotty”.
Within the cold, technically called “upper respiratory infection” or “upper respiratory tract infection”, a variety of symptoms are included that come from the inflammation of the respiratory mucosa that goes from the nose to the bronchi, and depending on the one that predominates – because they are usually mixed- we will say that we have rhinitis (runny nose), pharyngitis (sore throat), laryngitis (hoarse cough) or bronchitis (cough and breath sounds). In addition, colds can be accompanied by fever, which is observed more frequently as the sufferer ages.
Catarrh, the common cold in babies, is the most common reason for consultation for which parents go to the paediatrician with their children. As a rule, this type of respiratory infection is self-limiting; it heals on its own within a few days and without leaving sequelae. A fever usually does not last more than three days; the nasal and throat symptoms subside in a week, but the cough is generally more persistent, and it is not uncommon for it to last 2 or 3 weeks.
The nasal mucus also changes throughout the disease. Initially, it is like a “gut” that escapes through the nose, but then it thickens, turning into whitish mucus that later turns yellow and even greenish and thus persists—for a few days.
Prevent colds in babies:
There is no effective vaccine against the cold globally because many microbes are capable of giving rise to this clinical picture. However, there is a “partial solution”, the annual flu vaccination, bearing in mind that whoever receives it is only protected against the specific flu virus (influenza virus A and B ) and not against the rest of the possible causes of catarrhal symptoms. . There are those who recommend, therefore, the flu vaccination of the little ones (at least six months) if they go to nursery school—to avoid exposure to people with colds. Frequent hand washing is one of the best habits to prevent infectious diseases.
How to treat and relieve cold symptoms?
The primary objective is to alleviate its symptoms, since we cannot attack the origin, and also to prevent as far as possible or be aware of the appearance of complications, all this while keeping in mind the natural tendency of these processes to spontaneous healing. Nasal washes with physiological saline will be performed. The use of medications, except for analgesics-antipyretics (paracetamol, ibuprofen, etc.) in the event of fever or malaise, does not produce remarkable effects such as recommending their general use. Therefore, it is essential to know that treating a cold with antibiotics does not shorten its duration or reduce the probability of complications and thus favours the development of resistance to these drugs among germs.
Suppose the fever persists for more than three days. Earache appears to be difficulty breathing and more than ten days of thick yellow or greenish nasal mucus.
- Bronchiolitis in babies:
Respiratory infection is caused by viruses in which the bronchi and bronchioles, the smallest airways or tubes that carry air into the lung, become inflamed. It affects children under two years of age, especially those under six months. The most common virus is RSV, a respiratory syncytial virus. And it is more frequent from November to March. Most have mild conditions, and only a few have to be admitted to a hospital. It is spread mainly by contact with drops of saliva or mucus found on toys and pacifiers.
At the beginning of the disease, boys and girls usually present a catarrhal picture (increased mucus and cough). Subsequently, the bronchioles become inflamed, making it difficult for air to pass through them. It can cause shortness of breath (rapid breathing, ribs bulging, or abdominal movement a lot) and “whooping” or other noises may be heard when listening to the child. They may have a fever, although they do not usually have accompanying bacterial infections that require antibiotics. The illness lasts 7 to 12 days in previously healthy children, but the cough may persist for many more days.
Can bronchiolitis in babies be prevented?
Bronchiolitis is transmitted from person to person, so people with a respiratory infection, even a simple cold, should wash their hands frequently, especially before and after touching the child or any objects he uses. Breastfeeding is recommended since children who take it are more protected against bronchiolitis.
Treatment of bronchiolitis in babies:
Before eating and sleeping, it is advisable to wash the nostrils with saline solution and aspirate the mucus if necessary. Raise the head of the bed/crib slightly if the child has a fever, antipyretics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (the latter, in those older than six months), and physical measures (uncovering the child or baths with warm water). Children with bronchiolitis have a poor appetite, tire easily during feedings, and may vomit and choke. The intakes should be divided (administer less food but more frequently). Cough syrups, mucolytics, and nasal decongestants should not be used as they may be harmful.
Go to the doctor in these cases:
- Suspecting that the child is breathing faster or more agitated than normal
- If you are living very fast.
- The skin sinks into the ribs
- If you refuse or have difficulty eating food
- When the fever is very high.
- Al has blue lips or fingernails spontaneously or with a cough.
- Acute laryngitis in babies:
It generally affects children between 6 months and six years. It is more frequent in the cold months. It is also given other names, such as croup or stridulous laryngitis. Sometimes it is accompanied by a hoarse noise when breathing (when the child takes a breath) called stridor.
Only on some occasions, the inflammation of the larynx can make it difficult for air to enter and cause respiratory distress (rapid breathing, in which the ribs are marked when breathing or the chest sinks). Early in the illness, the child may have a runny nose for a few days and a fever. Laryngitis is usually worse at night.
How can we treat laryngitis in babies?
Breathing cold air can improve the symptoms of the freezing or common cold in babies and other respiratory diseases: cold air can deflate the tissue that lines the airways. You can make the child breathe air from the street in the cold months by bringing him warmly to the window.
Monitor the child’s breathing:
It is usual for the child to have no appetite. Don’t force him to eat. Offer fluids.
No need for antibiotic treatment, as it is a viral infection.
Water and alcohol collars should not be used. They are not effective and can irritate the skin.
Check with your paediatrician before giving cough syrups or suppositories.
The vast majority of laryngitis are mild, heal independently and do not require more treatment than previously mentioned in cases where the child has noise when breathing (stridor) or respiratory distress.
When to go to the doctor for a case of laryngitis in babies?
- It makes noise while the child is calm when taking in the air (stridor).
- If you have difficulty breathing:
- You breathe faster and faster.
- Your ribs are marked.
- Your belly moves a lot.
- Your chest sinks.
- Your neck stretches.
- You have worsening symptoms if you have a whitish or bluish colouration around the mouth.