Chest Infection in Kids: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Chest Infection in Children – Reasons & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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Infections are common in children, and you are sure to come across them as parents. Your child will definitely get some sort of infection at some point.

Chest infections are common in children and can be easily observed as it has many symptoms. They usually develop from a common cold or flu and can become serious if left untreated. In some cases, they can even develop into life-threatening diseases. So in this article, let us take a look at what chest infections are and how they can be diagnosed and treated.

Video: Chest Infection in Children – Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

What Is Chest Infection?

Chest infections can be classified into two types; bronchitis and pneumonia. Both are common in children, as the immune system is still developing and they are more susceptible to infections at a young age. The chest infection usually starts out as a fever or a cold, but quickly develops if it is not kept under control. The difference between the two types is that the former is caused due to a virus, but bacteria are the cause of the latter. Pneumonia affects the sacs of air in the lungs, while bronchitis results in the inflammation of the mucous membrane present in the body. Both of these can lead to bouts of spasms, restricted breathing and cough in babies.

Causes of Chest Infection in Children

A chest infection can occur as a result of many factors, which may even work in tandem in some cases. These factors are:

  • Changes in the weather. If the temperature around the child fluctuates extremely, it can result in the baby contracting chest infections. Heatwaves and cool winters can both cause chest infections, which is why they are more common during the monsoon season in India.
  • The strength of immunity. As the baby grows up, his immune system is still only developing- it is nowhere near its full strength. Therefore, it is easy for bacteria and viruses to infect the child and cause chest infections.
  • Bronchitis may be contracted if the child is exposed to smoke, particularly cigarette smoke, often. Pollution levels of the air around him have a telling effect on his health and can result in chest infections which stay for longer than usual.
  • In some cases, you might observe that your child gets infected around the same time every year. This usually means that he is allergic to something that is seasonal, like pollen of flowers. Therefore, the baby might contract chest infections due to his allergies.
  • Common cold. This occurs in the majority of children- a common cold develops into chest infections after some time. This happens because the cold leaves the body more vulnerable to attacks, as the immune system is weakened. Asthma also gets worse if the child contracts the cold.

Symptoms of Chest Infection in Kids

There are a few symptoms of chest infections in kids, and they are quite obvious if the child is affected by it. These symptoms are:

  • Cough and fever which stays for a long time
  • Difficulty in breathing, accompanied by wheezing
  • Sleep interruptions
  • The rise in heartbeat rates
  • General loss of appetite, which may be accompanied by vomiting and nausea
  • Chest pain, which may also affect the abdomen

Side-Effects or Complications of Chest Infection

While chest infections themselves are nothing serious, parents will find themselves worrying about the health of their child and whether the condition will develop into something more serious. Bronchitis itself is not a serious condition- however, asthma and wheezing are. Pneumonia affects the child in some rare cases and will require medical attention. If your baby already has lung or heart conditions, it might be more difficult for him to get through bronchitis quickly.

How Can Chest Infection be Treated?

The treatment for chest infection in children is fairly simple, and your child will most likely require within a short period of care. However, you should be wary so as to not let it fester into something more serious. You can follow home remedies and treatments and wait for your child to recover within a couple of weeks at most. The methods of treating chest infections are given below.

  • Give your child a nutritious diet of cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, honey, tulsi, ginger and warm liquids like soups, turmeric milk, so that his body gets the required strength to fight off the infection. It is also sure to help reduce the temperature of the body.
  • Medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen in small doses can help reduce the fever and reduce the congestion in the chest. This can improve his breathing, too- although, make sure not to increase the dosage.
  • Using saline nasal drops, you can clear the stuffy nose and improve his breathing quickly. Also, always eat in an upright position so as to clear the nose.
  • Steam inhalation is another great way to reduce the stuffiness of the nose, and you can apply a bit of vapour rub on the inhaler for best results.

How to Prevent Chest Infection in a Child

Recurrent chest infection in children is a serious problem, so you must do all you can to prevent chest infection in toddlers. Some tips to prevent it are given below.

  • You should maintain hygiene in and around the house so that the child does not come in contact with harmful bacteria as much as possible. Also, try to keep your child away from polluted air as much as possible.
  • Discard off the napkins and tissues which you used while the child was infected, so as to prevent a recurrence.
  • Vaccination against flu can help reduce any secondary infections.
  • Keep your child away from anything that may cause the infection- this includes cigarette smoke and infected family members if any.

When to Consult a Doctor

When to Consult a Doctor

If the symptoms of the condition do not improve even after prolonged care, it would be best to consult the doctor. If he has difficulty in breathing, feels disoriented or coughs up blood-stained phlegm, it is a sign that he needs the care of a medical professional.

Chest infections are commonly treated right from home, as they usually subside after a couple of weeks. However, you have to consult the doctor if the symptoms do not go away even after prolonged care.

Also Read:

Ear Infection in kids
Viral Infection in Children

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