Inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system are conventionally classified into diseases of the upper airways and diseases of the lower airways.
Inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system are the most common diseases of the child, constituting 50% of all diseases for which the pediatrician is consulted. This requires a large time budget for the doctor and the child’s parents. Do not lose sight of the fact that mild respiratory diseases, for which the doctor is not consulted, are missing from the statistics.
The overwhelming majority of respiratory infections are located in the upper airways and only 5% are represented by lower airways infections (bronchiolitis and pneumonia). This percentage accumulates all serious cases and sometimes requires hospitalization.
Etiological agents of acute respiratory infections are viruses in 90% of cases. Bacteria or protozoa are responsible for the other etiologies.
The most common viruses are:
- respiratory syncytial virus;
- influenza and parainfluenza viruses;
- enters the statistics – respiratory infections with Mycoplasma pneumonia, Chlamydia.
Bacteria are incriminated less often. The most common germs with respiratory tropism are pneumococcus, Haemophylus, streptococcus, staphylococcus and some Gram-negative germs.
Families with smokers and individuals with chronic cough constitute an environment in which infants contract bronchiolitis and pneumonia more frequently. The seasonal variation of respiratory infections must be remembered, viral infections, especially those with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) being responsible for winter-spring epidemics.
What currently concerns pediatrics is the category of children with repeated respiratory infections, with prolonged and serious infectious episodes. The natural history of respiratory infections demonstrates that most cases heal without sequelae. Clinical features of inflammatory disease of the lower respiratory tract depend on factors related to the host (age, sex, predisposition to atopy), on the specific etiology of the infection and on the location them.