The most common colds and other respiratory infections in children

Coughs and colds

During the preschool years, children seem to get a discouraging number of coughs and colds and sore throats. There is an array of possibilities: croup, aching or running ears, flu grippe, swollen glands and so on. Some are named for the part involved; laryngitis, tonsillitis, adenoiditis, bronchitis pharyngitis. Many mothers feel as if they can name them all.

It is some help to know that the child will be less susceptible as he grows older and will have less severe action to those which he does get.

You never know at the beginning what you’re dealing with what looks at first like a simple running nose may become in a day or two a common childhood disease with typical eruption, chickenpox for instance.

It may be the first sign of a more serious infection. Or it may, despite a furious onset with high fever or a convulsion, settle down to be an ordinary cold. Many times children produce their own typical response to infection. One will get croup every time. Another never does, but screams with earache.

About all a parent can do is to decide that every cold and cough and sore throat deserves the safest treatment. Check with the doctor, and keep in touch with him as symptoms change. He will decide whether he needs to see the child. Keep the child indoors, in bed if there’s fever, and unroll all the tender-loving-care routine you know so well.

In this way, you’re going to avoid complications which can result when a slight infection opens the way for a more serious one. Be wary of nose drops or cough medicines without a doctor’s instructions. These will not cure the infection.

Keep the child comfortable with grease or cream under his nose to prevent soreness; keep the room warm but not overheated; add moisture to the air if you feel it will help; and keep the child away from others.


A serious disease, can be avoided. A child who has received three injections in infancy, and booster shots on schedule has practically no chance of catching it. If begins with sore throat and fever; hoarseness and sharp cough may develop the throat and tonsils may become whitish in appearance. If a child has been immunized is exposed to diphtheria, the doctor will give him antitoxin immediately in an effort to prevent the disease.
A sore throat caused by by a streptococcus is called a strep throat or, if a rash is present. Scarlet fever. Be sure to continue the medicine the doctor advises for the full period he prescribes even though the symptoms clear up quickly. To avoid later complications it should be continued for the full course of treatment.

Doctor needs to check any child who complains of aching legs or mild joint pains, who is pale and tired, or who has slight fever for more than a few days without obvious cause.

Rheumatic fever

Chorea, or st. Vitus dance, may be a symptoms of rheumatic fever. The child has jerky movements of a face, arms, trunk, or legs which may vary each time. Don’t confuse chorea with the restlessness of a child who’s tired of sitting, or with nervous twitches such as eye blinks, head jerks, or other mannerisms which the child repeats. A child with chorea should be under a doctor’s care. He needs sympathetic handling at home.
pneumonia is a general name for inflammation of the lungs and can be caused by virus, bacteria or foreign object. Each type has different treatment. As a rule, there is a fever , cough and difficult rapid breathing. Modern drugs bring about prompt recovery in most cases when the treatment is started early. A child with pneumonia may not seem to be very sick.

Tonsils and adenoids

Small, spongy masses of tissue at the back of throat which are similar in their function to other lymphatic glands in the body particularly those at the side of the neck, in the armpit and groin. Like these other glands, tonsils and adenoids combat germs; they become involved whenever a child has a cold or throat infection. After repeated respiratory problems, they may remain so swollen they can interfere with breathing or swallowing. If the situation becomes urgent, the doctor may feel that obstructive tonsils or adenoids should be removed. Nowadays, the operation is never done routinely, in a general attempt to improve the child’s health in some vague way.