Understanding Lung Diseases In Children

Lung diseases are a major health concern in children.  Lung diseases often have similar symptoms such as chronic cough, shortness of breath, and rapid breathing. They also affect the air passages and lungs in a similar manner, damaging the tissues surrounding the bronchial tubes and alveoli.

These diseases also affect the functions of the lungs, reduce the oxygen level in the blood, and hamper the breathing process.

Here is a brief discussion about the common lung diseases in children.

What are the causes of lung diseases in children?

  • Inherited medical conditions like surfactant disorders
  • Birth defects causing abnormal changes in the structure and functions of the lungs
  • Exposure to substances like fumes, smoke, molds, and chemicals that irritate the lungs
  • Immunological disorders

Common respiratory diseases affecting children


Influenza, also called the flu, occurs due to an infection by a virus that usually causes a fever lasting 5 to 7 days along with muscle aches, cough, fatigue, and runny nose.

Influenza could be dangerous and even lead to life-threatening consequences, especially in infants and young children. The common complications linked to influenza include pneumonia and hospitalization due to secondary bacterial infections.

The administration of vaccines could greatly reduce the risk of these infections.  These vaccines need to be given annually because the formulation tends to change every year in the anticipation of the strains of viruses expected to be prevalent in the season.

The common cold

The common cold is caused by viruses. The symptoms usually include a runny nose, body aches, sore throat, cough, sneezing, and headaches. 

It is estimated that, on average, children have about 6 to 8 episodes of common colds every year.It is the primary reason for missing school days by kids.

You can attend our Respiratory Therapy CME Conferences 2022 to learn more about the most effective strategies to prevent these infections in young children.


It has been found that more than 6 million children in the United States have asthma. It is a serious lung disease that causes cough, chest tightness and pressure, shortness of breath, and difficulty in breathing.

The symptoms are also accompanied by wheezing and whistling while exhaling.

The attacks of asthma could be triggered by a number of factors, including inhaling dust and pollen and the exposure to allergens such as smoke and pet dander. Asthma could put children at risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. It is also the 3rd most common cause of hospitalizations in children below the age of 15 years.


Sinusitis refers to the inflammation and swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. It occurs when the fluid builds up in these air-filled sacs located behind the eyes and nose leading to an infection.

Sinusitis usually accompanies the symptoms of the common cold or the flu or could be triggered by allergies. It may lead to pain, pressure, and tenderness in the face, especially behind the nose and eyes. It may also cause a feeling of being stuffed up and congested, cough, a runny nose, bad breath, and post-nasal drip.

Our Respiratory Care Conference is aimed at providing detailed information about the lung diseases in children to help healthcare practitioners provide the best treatment to their patients.


Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is generally caused due to a virus that triggers inflammation and swelling in the trachea and larynx. The swelling prevents the free flow of air through the air passages and lungs thus creating a squeaking and high-pitched wheezing sound while taking deep breaths. As a result, the child’s voice may become huskier than normal.

Croup tends to affect children below 4 years of age. It is characterized by a barky and harsh cough and mild to moderate respiratory distress.


Bronchitis refers to a condition caused due to the inflammation in the bronchi, the large breathing tubes or air passages. It may eventually spread to the lungs. It is usually caused due to a viral infection and develops after an attack of the common cold or flu.

The persistent cough that tends to linger for more than 3 weeks after the infection is clearedis one of the classic symptoms of bronchitis.

In addition to a cough, children may develop a few other symptoms such as runny nose, chest pain, congestion, fever with chills, wheezing, sore throat, and an overall feeling of tiredness or malaise.

The symptoms are generally the same among children and adults with bronchitis, though kids are more likely to swallow mucus instead of coughing it up. Children with allergies and asthma or those having chronic sinusitis are at a higher risk of developing acute and chronic bronchitis. Sometimes, asthma could be mistaken for bronchitis and vice versa.


Pneumonia occurs due to an infection in the lungs. It can lead to dangerous consequences, if not managed in a timely manner.

The common symptoms include high fever with chills, cough, rapid breathing, fatigue, and pain in the chest.The symptoms tend to be less obvious in children than in adults, suggesting that it could be harder to diagnose pneumonia in children.

Pneumonia may develop after the child has had an episode of the common cold or flu. Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics. There is no specific treatment to manage viral pneumonia, though the child may be prescribed an antiviral medication to shorten the duration of the illness.

Adequate rest and drinking plenty of fluids could also help the child recover faster.


These lung diseases have become a major cause of concern for the paediatric group of patients. Paediatricians and other healthcare practitioners can attend our AARC Approved Live Respiratory CEUs to learn the latest guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood lung diseases so that they can treat their patients with a better prognosis.