How to spot respiratory tract infections in children
Infections of your child’s nose, sinuses, throat, airway or lungs are called respiratory tract infections. They are a common cause of breathing problems in children.
- What are the signs of a respiratory tract infection?
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Lower respiratory tract infections
- Recurrent infections
- Other symptoms
Call 999 now if your child has any of these breathing-related symptoms:
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Grunting with the effort of trying to breathe
- The muscles under their ribs are sucking in with each breath
- Fast breathing
- Your child won’t wake up, or won’t stay awake
- Breathing stops for more than 20 seconds
- Regular shorter pauses in their breathing while they are awake
- Very pale or blue skin, or the inside of their lips and tongue are blue
- Fitting, if they have never had a fit before
What are the signs of a respiratory tract infection?
Infections of your child’s nose, sinuses, throat, airway or lungs are called respiratory tract infections.
Respiratory means to do with breathing.
Respiratory tract infections can cause breathing problems.
Upper respiratory tract infections
Infections of the nose, sinuses and throat are called upper respiratory tract infections. Children usually get more of these because they are not yet immune to the viruses that usually cause them. Most of the time they will recover by themselves.
Common symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection are:
Lower respiratory tract infections
Infections that affect your child’s main airways and lungs are called lower respiratory tract infections. As well as the symptoms above they may have:
- coughing and vomiting with coughing
- breathing difficulties (breathing fast, making a noise when they breathe or struggling to breathe)
- problems with feeding and drinking because of difficulty breathing
- a change in skin colour
Our son’s chest infections were too frequent to be normal
When Lisa’s baby son was diagnosed and treated for a rare condition, the change was instant.
If your child gets recurrent infections
If an infection does not go away or keeps returning, then this could be a sign of an underlying problem. Find out more in our information about going to the doctor.
How many coughs and colds are normal?
It’s normal for a toddler going to nursery to have 6 to 8 coughs and colds in a year. If your child is having other symptoms that keep coming back, see your doctor.