Upper respiratory tract infections
Predictably, upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, are the most prevalent respiratory disease among children. “Preschool children have an average of eight episodes of upper respiratory tract infections a year,” shares Associate Professor Anne Goh, senior consultant, Respiratory Medicine Service, and head and senior consultant, Allergy Service, at the Department of Paediatrics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
According to Prof Goh, these viral infections are marked by symptoms such as a cough, runny nose and fever. “These infections are self-limiting and usually resolve without treatment, so medication is aimed at relieving the symptoms. For instance, anti-fever medication is prescribed to ease the fever and any discomfort that the child may have, and antihistamines for a runny nose,” she says.
“Unfortunately, such infections are difficult to prevent, as there are many viruses that can give rise to recurrent infections,” notes Prof Goh. “However, the influenza vaccine may be administered to prevent infection from the influenza virus, which can also give rise to these infections.” Another respiratory illness common among kids, asthma “affects about 20 per cent of children in Singapore”, according to Prof Goh. Asthma attacks, often triggered by upper respiratory tract infections, are usually characterised by episodes of wheezing, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
“Children with asthma are usually given reliever inhalers containing bronchodilators, which dilate the airways and increase airflow to the lungs,” shares Prof Goh. These provide quick relief for their symptoms. “An inhaled steroid in the form of a controller inhaler, however, provides long-term control of asthma. This allows the child to lead a normal and active life, and participate in sporting activities.” The Respiratory Medicine Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital is a key referral centre in Singapore for breathing and sleep-related disorders for children and teens up to 16 years old. Some of its services include the management of asthma, respiratory tract infections and general sleep and respiratory issues. For more information, call 6225-5554 or visit www.kkh.com.sg.