Cold weather is here and along with it physicians always see an increase in respiratory illnesses. Children are indoors more and the close environment means that respiratory illness spreads more effectively. Most seasonal respiratory illnesses are contagious and can spread throughout a family, daycare center, or school classroom. You can minimize the risk to your child by insuring they are up to date on vaccines and by practicing good hand washing techniques, and teaching your child to use them too.

Vaccines

Consult with your physician about whether your child is up to date on vaccines. A list of recommended vaccines is available from the CDC. The CDC recommends that children over the age of six months receive a flu shot annually.

Good Hand Washing Techniques

Although hand sanitizer is great in an emergency, it is always best to wash your hands with soap and water.

  1. Wet your hands with running water
  2. Apply soap
  3. Lather your hands for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to pay attention to the area between each finger, the backs of your hands, and under your fingernails.
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer.

Winter Respiratory Illnesses

With the onset of cold weather, children are more prone to respiratory illnesses. Talk to your pediatrician in advance to clarify when your child should be seen.

Common Cold- The common cold can be caused by over 200 viruses. It is transmitted from person-to-person through the air or by contact with surfaces where germs reside and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Symptoms include; a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, mild dry cough, possible low grade fever.

RSV-Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Many of the same symptoms as cold and flu but is more prevalent that flu. RSV can lead to more severe illness (bronchitis and pneumonia) in babies under one year of age. There is no vaccine but some special needs children can receive a monthly injection of palivizumab which is used to prevent more serious illness from developing.

Influenza (Flu) – Similar symptoms but more severe than those seen with the common cold. Symptoms include; runny nose, nasal congestion, fever with chills, body aches, Extreme weakness and a feeling of exhaustion, stomach ache and vomiting

Sinusitis- usually follows a common cold. Viral infections cause the mucous membranes in the respiratory passages to swell and produce extra mucous. The sinuses have difficulty draining and mucous builds up making a warm, moist area, a favorite medium for germs to grow. The symptoms are similar to that of the cold, although more severe. Also included is pain in the sinuses, fever over 102°F, green or yellow nasal discharge.

Bronchitis-Bronchitis is a respiratory illness caused by many different viruses. As the virus causes inflammation in the tiny passages that lead to the lungs, they swell and fill with mucous. Bronchitis presents with similar symptoms to the cold but more severe. Included symptomology includes wheezing with rapid shallow breathing and evidence of respiratory distress; such as retractions (sucking in of the skin in between or around the bones of the chest when inhaling) and flaring of the nostrils.

Pneumonia-Diagnosed by x-ray, Pneumonia is a viral or bacterial infection where the air pockets in the lungs (alveoli) become inflamed and fill with fluid causing the exchange of oxygen to be inhibited. Symptoms include fever, cough, reduced appetite, rapid breathing, retractions and flaring.

Whooping Cough- Whooping Cough is named for the whooping sound that an affected child makes when inhaling deeply following a coughing fit. Over 50% of infants under one-year of age need to be hospitalized for treatment of whooping cough. There is a vaccine for whooping cough.

Croup- Most frequently seen in 2-year-olds, croup is characterized by a barking cough. Generally croup lasts about a week.

With years of experience under our belts, we can offer suggestions and additional tips for preventing winter respiratory illness.  If you find your special needs child needs respiratory assistance this winter, we are here to help. RSVP Home Care provides respiratory therapy and durable medical equipment support in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.