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What if your child gets a respiratory infection?Our medical analyst explains



Respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory virus, Growing in America, some children’s hospitals are overwhelmed.of Influenza epidemicalong with other viruses that cause the common cold, such as adenoviruses and rhinoviruses.

At the same time, children are returning to school and families are Return to many face-to-face activitiesoften without the mitigations applied during Covid-19, increasing the chances of the virus spreading.

There are two main symptoms that raise concerns about respiratory infections — difficulty breathing and dehydration, says Dr. Leana Wen.

What types of respiratory infections can be treated at home and how are they treated? Which symptoms should call a doctor or require a parent or caregiver to take the child to the hospital? When do you have to be absent from school? And what precautions can families take to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses?

To answer these questions and more, we spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health expert, George She is Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Washington Milken Institute School of Public Health. is also the author of “Lifelines: A Physician’s Journey in the Battle for Public Health” and mother of two children.

CNN: Why are respiratory infections on the rise?

AS Dr. Liana Wen: They have always been common among children. Before Covid-19, it was common for school kids to have runny noses and coughs, especially during the fall and winter months.

They are now on the rise because mitigation measures taken during the pandemic, such as social distancing, masks and avoidance of large gatherings, have reduced the spread of respiratory viruses over the past two winters. May be. As a result, many children they don’t have normal immunity.

My own children had respiratory illnesses at least three times in less than two months of returning to kindergarten and preschool. Luckily, I recovered without becoming seriously ill, but I do understand the concern and distress that parents and caregivers feel when their children are sick.

CNN: What respiratory infections can you treat at home?

Wen: Most respiratory infections in children can be managed at home with fluids, fever reducers, and rest. In general, the cause of infection is not the main factor in determining whether a child needs hospital treatment. That’s how children are.

Respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, is a public health concern. This is because some hospitals are filled with infected children. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Virtually all children become infected with RSV before their second birthday, and approximately 58,000 children are hospitalized for RSV each year. Clearly, RSV is a very serious infection among some children and parents should know what to look out for to detect serious illness. Also remember that mild cold-like symptoms do not require hospitalization.

So do other viruses. Influenza, like Covid-19, can cause very serious illness. However, most cases in children do not result in hospitalization, and symptoms can be managed at home. On the other hand, there are viruses, like adenovirus, commonly associated with mild colds that can cause severe symptoms in some children.

If you end up going to the emergency department, your child will likely be tested for Covid-19, flu, and RSV. If your child is hospitalized, they may receive additional virus testing. However, many clinics do not provide such care. Again, the actual virus leading to the illness is less important in determining whether a child needs to be hospitalized, and more important than how the child looks.

The exception is very young infants (usually under 2 months of age), who are usually examined and monitored more often.

CNN: What other risk factors might lead parents to watch out for serious illness?

Wen: Newborns are very vulnerable. They have little immunity and little physiological reserve. That is, once sick, they can quickly become very sick.Premature babies are also at risk. Many of them have underdeveloped lungs. A baby born two months premature will have her period two months younger than a baby born full term on the same day.

Parents and caregivers should have a health plan in place in case their child catches a respiratory virus.

There are also other factors to consider, such as young children with significant heart or lung disease, or severely immunocompromised. Must be set.

CNN: If a child is generally healthy and has a fever, cough and runny nose, should parents or caregivers call a doctor? When should they rush to the hospital?

Wen: There are two main symptoms that raise concern for respiratory infections. The first is difficulty breathing. Look for hard, fast breathing. For example, if your child is wheezing or growling. If the nostrils are dilated. If they are belly breathing, that is, their chest will collapse and their belly will come out while breathing. Or if your breathing rate is higher than normal.

The second is the difficulty of hydration. This is especially a baby issue. A stuffy nose can make it difficult to drink breast milk or formula and can quickly dehydrate you. If your child looks sleepy and doesn’t drink water, or if your baby is diapering less often, call your doctor sooner or later.

An ongoing problem (for example, a mild fever that lasts several days) can probably wait until a pediatrician’s appointment.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead before your child gets sick. Many pediatricians offer an on-call service that allows you to reach a doctor or other health care provider within an hour, even on evenings and weekends. Know if this possibility exists and make it easy to call the number. If you cannot reach the pediatrician after hours, you should know which hospital to take your child to if he becomes seriously ill. Ideally, it is a hospital near you that is staffed by specialists in pediatric emergency medicine.

If you cannot easily reach a doctor by phone in an emergency, lower the threshold for taking your child to the hospital, especially if you have a newborn or young baby. should go to the hospital in

CNN: When do kids have to be out of school?

Wen: It depends on your child’s school policy. Many schools are asking children to stay home while they have a fever. Also, do not attend if you are vomiting. Some schools may also require a Covid-19 test to ensure symptoms are not caused by coronavirus.

That said, it probably doesn’t make sense to ask children to stay home if they’re showing signs of sniffling. children miss school for weeks during the winter. Parents and guardians should assume that there will always be children in their child’s class who are infected with respiratory pathogens. take precautions accordinglySome families may select maskOthers may return to what they were doing pre-Corona. It’s all about maintaining good hand hygiene and not being around vulnerable people when you’re sick.

CNN: What precautions should parents and caregivers take?

Wen: Hand washing is a big one. Many of these respiratory pathogens are transmitted through droplets. When someone sneezes or coughs, those droplets land on surfaces touched by someone else and then touch their nose and mouth. Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently. Also, if you need to cough or sneeze, you should do so with your elbow or a tissue to reduce the spread of droplets.

If someone in your family has a respiratory infection, you can easily infect other family members. Avoiding sharing utensils and drinks with sick people and keeping sick people away from vulnerable family members, such as newborns and the elderly, can reduce that risk. should be restricted as much as possible.

There is no licensed vaccine for RSV, but one for influenza. Parents should get their children vaccinated against influenza. The child should be vaccinated against her Covid-19 if it has not already been done. Evaluate Your Family Situation Decide whether to give a new bivalent booster to children over the age of 5.




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