Respiratory illnesses

On average, young children get between six and 10 colds per year as they build their immunity to the many viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. While colds interrupt sleep and make children miserable, they’re generally not serious. Lots of cuddles, rest and fluids will usually have your child fit and well again. But there are some respiratory illnesses that need to be taken seriously, including bronchiolitis and asthma.

Top 10 Tips

1. Bronchiolitis is a contagious illness caused by a viral respiratory infection which causes breathing problems in babies.

2. It most commonly affects babies aged 3-6 months. Babies born prematurely are most at risk of developing severe bronchiolitis, as are babies with heart and lung disease. Bronchiolitis is usually mild and in most instances can be treated at home.

3. Children usually get a cough, runny nose, a fever for 2 or 3 days, fast breathing, and they usually have wheezy breathing as well.

4. Keep your baby warm and comfortable and offer small feeds often.

5. If your child’s feeding reduces so they’re drinking around half of what they would normally drink, or you think their breathing appears very fast, or when you look at their chest you see the skin sucking in between their ribs, see a doctor.

6. Asthma is a respiratory illness that leads to a narrowing of the airways. It’s difficult to diagnose with any certainty until a child is over one.

7. One in four people in New Zealand will get asthma at some time.

8. Children will have wheezy, fast breathing and may have difficulty talking.

9. It isn’t known why some people are more prone to asthma but it often runs in families and is related to other conditions such as eczema, hayfever and allergies.

10. See your doctor if you think your child might have asthma.

Latest news and features