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Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI)

Respiratory infections are a very frequent problem in children whether it’s a newborn or an adolescent.

Children suffer badly when respiratory infection sets in. They are more prone due to low immunity (newborn, infant, toddler or small children). They (all) tend to catch ARI due to cross-infection especially when they start schooling, due to putting hands inside a mouth.

Children start having:

•    Running nose

•    Cough

•    Sore throat 

•    Fever

•    Breathlessness (in aggravated cases)

•    Lethargy/Malaise

•    Irritability

Onset can be viral (primary), bacteria or bacterial on viral infection. When the respiratory infection starts, the child becomes irritable, stop eating, a decreased activity which causes trouble to the parents as they have to handle a sick child. Child irritability increases as it affects child breathing due to congestion and sore throat increases the problem more.

Nasal congestion irritates the child more than any other symptom. Cough irritates due to its frequency and causing pain in the chest. Soreness irritates the most as a child is not able to eat and drink anything. Fever happens with ARI causing malaise.

The culprit for all this:

•    Cross infection

•    Putting fingers in the mouth (small children)

•    Changing weather

•    Cold food/drinking items

•    Swimming (old children)

How to manage:

•    Firstly do not panic with your child’s irritability

•    Precautions always to take like avoid cold food, cleaning of hands regularly; protect the child from cross infection

•    Steaming and gargles (do regularly).  It helps out to prevent congestion, open up the air passages and have a soothing effect to the throat

•    Antihistaminics- as prescribed by a doctor and helps in relieving congestion and has a soothing effect

•    Antibiotics- as prescribed by the doctor according to the need for it

•    Plenty of liquids- help to get cure from ailment early and maintain hydration

•    Antipyretics- for relieving fever and body pains

If it’s a viral ARI, it will take its time to heal (7-14 days).  What the best can be done is a supportive treatment which is more beneficial than unnecessary antibiotics. If it’s bacterial ARI, treatment is under the guidance of your doctor for the use of antibiotics. Hydration is always important in any kind of infection. Do not worry or panic, as a child cannot tell when he/she feels sick (small children) but only get cranky, just help and support the child when suffering from ARI.

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