What Are the Main Causes of Respiratory Disease in Children?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Respiratory disease in children can have a variety of causes and requires intensive medical supervision in order to avoid potentially life-threatening complications. Some of the most common causes of respiratory disease in children include cystic fibrosis, influenza, and sinusitis. Additional respiratory illnesses include respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and pneumonia. Asthma, bronchiolitis, and croup frequently cause respiratory distress in children as well. Any questions or concerns about individualized causes of respiratory disease in children should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes a variety of symptoms, including frequent respiratory infections and difficulty breathing. This is often a fatal disease, and lung transplantation is frequently used in an effort to prolong the life of the patient. Influenza is a viral illness that can lead to severe respiratory problems and even death, especially if not promptly treated. Influenza vaccines are available in many parts of the world and are widely believed to prevent many deaths each year.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses and can be caused by a viral infection or environmental allergens. Nasal congestion, facial pain or pressure, and fever are common symptoms of sinusitis. Although this condition can cause breathing difficulty, it is almost never fatal.


Respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, is a relatively common respiratory disease in children. This is a contagious viral disease that can lead to complications such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Pneumonia is a potentially fatal respiratory illness that causes the lungs to become inflamed and may make it painful or difficult to breathe. Bronchiolitis is a type of respiratory disease in children that causes the small airways leading to the lungs to become infected or inflamed.

Asthma is a frequently diagnosed respiratory disease in children. This illness causes the airways to become swollen, preventing proper air flow to the body. Severe asthma attacks can be fatal if not properly treated. Medications are often given in the form of an inhaler to prevent severe complications during an asthma attack.

Croup is one of the best-known respiratory diseases in children and is caused by a viral infection of the upper portion of the airway. A hoarse cough that sounds a lot like barking is one of the most common symptoms of croup and is often worse at night. If medical treatment is started in the early stages of the disease, hospitalization is rarely required.


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