Common Pediatric Respiratory Infections

July 20, 2023
A child with a pediatric respiratory infection blows their nose in bed

Pediatric respiratory infections can cause discomfort for children and concern for parents. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for some of the most prevalent infections, you can be better prepared to care for your little ones when respiratory infections strike. Here are some of the most common pediatric respiratory infections:

The Common Cold

The common cold is typically caused by rhinovirus. Children with a cold may experience a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, mild fever, and general discomfort. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve within a week.

There is no cure for the common cold, so treatment focuses on symptom relief. You can help alleviate your child’s cold symptoms by:

  • Making sure they get plenty of rest
  • Keeping them hydrated with lots of clear liquids
  • Using saline drops or nasal rinses to relieve congestion
  • Soothing a sore throat with non-dairy popsicles, honey, or warm broth
  • Administering over-the-counter cold or pain medications (always consult with a medical professional before giving medication to young children)

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza, or the flu, is another prevalent respiratory infection that can affect children. It’s caused by the influenza virus, which is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets. Flu symptoms in children may include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Flu symptoms are similar to the common cold, but are often more severe. Antiviral medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to help lessen the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Additionally, rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended for symptom relief.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, primarily affects infants and young children, and is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age. An RSV infection may present as a mild cold-like illness, or it can cause more severe symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, fever, and poor feeding. It can lead to more serious respiratory issues in infants and children with weakened immune systems.

Treatment for RSV is mainly supportive and focuses on easing symptoms. This may include ensuring proper hydration, using a cool-mist humidifier to ease breathing, administering over-the-counter fever reducers (with a healthcare professional’s guidance), and closely monitoring the child's condition.


Croup is a common respiratory infection characterized by a distinctive barking cough. It’s often caused by viruses such as the parainfluenza virus. In addition to the harsh, barking cough, children with croup may experience a hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, and a loud, high-pitched noise when inhaling (stridor). Symptoms are often worse at night.

Most cases of croup can be managed at home by providing cool humidified air, encouraging fluids, and keeping your child as calm as possible. If symptoms persist or worsen, medical evaluation may be necessary, and in severe cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce airway inflammation.

Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Pediatric Respiratory Infection Treatment

Having a sick child can be stressful and scary, but fortunately, you don’t have to face it alone. PhysicianOne Urgent Care proudly treats patients of all ages, and our conveniently located centers are open 365 days per year with extended hours. You can walk in anytime during our operating hours or reserve your place in line ahead of time with our online booking tool. We also offer 24/7 virtual visits, so you can speak with a qualified local provider at any time of day or night without leaving the house. We accept most major insurance plans and offer reasonable self-pay rates for those who aren’t insured.

This was the fastest, easiest, and best doctor's visit. The provider was extremely kind and helpful. I explained my symptoms, the provider asked a few followup questions, and then she issued a script. I will absolutely be using this service again and would recommend to anyone.
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