SSM Health Medical Minute – Lingering respiratory symptoms in kids

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – Parents often think their child is having prolonged respiratory symptoms following a viral diagnosis when, in fact, many symptoms are within the range of normal. 

Viral respiratory infections (VRIs) include colds, the flu, and bronchiolitis. Respiratory means something that affects the lungs and airways. VRIs may cause coughing, sneezing, runny noses, sore throats, or fever.

“Respiratory infections are the most common in all age groups. Rhinovirus makes up over 50 percent of those infections, coronaviruses, in addition to COVID-19, adenovirus, influenza, parainfluenza that affect children and adults alike,” Dr. Michael Smiley, a SLUCare pediatric pulmonologist at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, said.

All age groups are at risk for VRIs. However, Dr. Smiley says because we are wearing masks, there is a decrease in the number of VRIs overall compared to normal numbers. However, in the pediatric population, they are seeing, additional hospitalizations for rhinovirus and RSV at Cardinal Glennon.

RSV is very common in children under 2 between November and February. 

The symptoms between rhinovirus and COVID-19 are very different. Most of the children who test positive for COVID-19 do not show symptoms of respiratory symptoms. He says kids are really asymptomatic carriers for the most part. Maybe a slight fever, but they tend to not display any of the respiratory distress of a normal viral infection.

Dr. Smiley says kids up through pre-school can, “get between 6-8 respiratory infections per year with symptoms lasting up to 14 days. Older children typically get 2-4 infections per year with symptoms lasting 7-10 days.”

He says the coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and fever are all symptoms that can linger and are very normal.

To learn more about pediatric pulmonology, click here

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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Medical Minute

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