With the cooling of the weather, the theme of Acute Viral Respiratory Infections has become relevant for more and more parents.
Acute respiratory infections (ARI) cause 40-60% of the illnesses of young children and 30-40% of the illnesses of preschoolers and schoolchildren. The source of infection is the sick person with manifest or inapparent latent infections and persons carrying viruses. The period of contagion in IAV lasts 10 days, in parainfluenza – 7-10 days and in IVRS – 10-14 days. The way of transmission is airborne through drops of nasopharyngeal secretions and indirectly through hands and objects freshly contaminated with infected secretions (dishes, handkerchiefs, water from swimming pools). In IAV, the transmission also takes place via fecal-oral route. Receptivity is general and varies according to age. Older children after 3 months, adolescents, chronically ill people are more receptive. Children aged up to 3 months get sick less often (exception – IVRS). Contagiousness in IVRS and IAV is high, especially in collectives and stationary – the virus can include 90% of small children, infants. Seasonality: cold season – autumn, winter, spring. In the summer there may be sporadic cases. The post-infectious immunity obtained is specific to serotypes, subtypes or the antigenic variant of the virus.
- Fever – increase in body temperature. Fever helps the body fight infection (destroys viruses and bacteria). Up to the numbers 38 o C – 38.5 o C no antipyretic drugs (to lower the temperature) are administered.
- Rhinorrhea – nasal secretions.
- Cough – reflex act of defending the body, by releasing mucus from the respiratory tract.
- Inappetence – the child has no appetite.
- Agitated and irritable child.
If the child is sick, there are alternatives to using cough medicine, or medicine that suppresses other symptoms to help the sick person tolerate the condition more easily. These measures include:
- Ventilation of the room where the child is. Room temperature within the limit of 20 o C – 22 o
- Humidifying the air – ideally a humidifier would be installed in a small area near a children’s bed to humidify the air and reduce drying of the nasal passages and throat.
- Reduction of motor activity during the febrile period.
- Optimal hydration – breast feeding for infants, for older children fluid consumption, especially warm drinks that soothe the throat.
- Physical methods of reducing fever – the child should be dressed lightly, wiping the skin with a damp sponge with lukewarm water. The use of alcohol or acetic acid (vinegar) is strictly prohibited.
- If the body temperature figures exceed 38.5 o C, the use of antipyretic drugs, Paracetamol or Ibuprofen is indicated. It is strictly forbidden to use aspirin for children under 12 years old – it can induce the development of Reye’s syndrome. The administration of the highest dose of paracetamol can be repeated after 4-6 hours (in the case of repeated febrile seizures). Ibuprofen is administered 6-8 hours after the previous dose.
Fighting nasal obstruction with nasal instillations, with saline 0.9% or sea water 5-6 times a day. If results are not obtained with saline solutions, decongestant drugs are administered (according to age).
If in doubt about what to do and how to treat the child, parents should contact their doctor first. But if the child is 3 months or less, contact the pediatrician at the first sign of illness.
Call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms in a child of any age:
- Fever in a child 3 months old or younger.
- Fever of 39 degrees Celsius or higher at any age.
- Ineffectiveness of antipyretics (maintenance of fever following the administration of drugs, Paracetamol or Ibuprofen).
- Increased respiratory rate (the child breathes often). Refusal to eat or drink.
- Excessive weakness or drowsiness.
- The cough persists for more than three weeks.
- Lack of improvement in the general condition after 4-5 days, from the onset.