Pulmonary diseases are any conditions that affect the lungs or the respiratory system in the body. The respiratory and pulmonary systems are the lungs and airways cavities. The body brings in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide through the lungs and respiratory system so germs can easily enter the body from the respiratory system and be a site for infections. This is especially common for kids as the respiratory system is developing. Common types of pediatric pulmonary diseases are influenza, asthma, wheezing, and pulmonary hypertension.
What is the Pulmonary System?
The pulmonary system is responsible for inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide from the body. The cells in our body use oxygen to convert food into energy. The breakdown of food is what gives us the energy to function day-to-day. Shallow breaths, wheezing, rapid breathing, or congestion are typically a sign of a pulmonary disease. Pulmonary diseases can be triggered by genetics and family history or external factors like pollutants, smoke, or air pollution.
What are the Types of Pediatric Pulmonary Diseases?
Children with pediatric asthma experience chronic inflammation of the airways that can prevent proper breathing. This disease affects approximately 8.4% of children in the U.S but can be managed with proper medication whereby kids can lead normal active lives. There are three types of pediatric asthma: allergic asthma, virus-induced asthma, and exercise-induced asthma. These three types of asthma are triggered by exposure to allergens, the existence of a virus with pulmonary symptoms, or physical activity, respectively. Regardless of the type, children with asthma can experience coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Corticosteroids that reduce inflammation in the form of inhalers or pills are used to treat asthma long-term while emergency bronchodilators are used more for severe asthmatic episodes.
Influenza or the flu is typically a non severe pulmonary disease. Children and adults will likely experience influenza throughout their lives. Typically influenza lasts for five to seven days with symptoms like running nose, cough, fever, fatigue, and muscle soreness. Physicians will diagnose and treat influenza with antibiotics and typically the body will recover. However, complications can occur resulting in pneumonia. The flu can be prevented with annual flu vaccines. The vaccine is recommended for children six months and older.
Bronchitis is when there is inflammation in the lungs, typically as a symptom of another pulmonary disease. Bronchitis results in coughing and takes around three to four weeks to fully clear up. Children with bronchitis will likely have difficulty coughing up mucus resulting in chest pain and congestion. Bronchitis is often seen in children with chronic pulmonary diseases like asthma. It is important to work with a medical professional to ensure bronchitis and the underlying condition are properly treated.
Why is it Important to Treat Pulmonary Problems Early?
Not all pediatric pulmonary diseases require the same level of medical attention. Some pediatric pulmonary diseases like influenza and the common cold are typically acute and resolve within a week’s time. Other diseases like asthma and pulmonary hypertension will require medical intervention, can persist throughout adulthood, and may have varying degrees of severity. If you have concerns about your child’s pulmonary condition, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Reda at Newport Children’s Medical Group. For all medical emergencies please contact 911 immediately.