Although the Costa del Sol enjoys a mild climate almost all year round, autumn is the season with more severe temperature changes, leading to the appearance of most of the illnesses affecting the respiratory tract especially in babies and children under two.
The fall also coincides with the beginning of the school year and with the increase of some pathologies. The beginning of daycare increases the likelihood of contracting common illnesses in young children. The months of September and October generally represemt the highest risk. Usually, they are viral diseases and others are part of the development of the child such as colds, flus and diarrhea.
These conditions do not require any special treatment and children can recover with some maintenance measures.
Among the factors that favour the development and aggravation typical autumn and winter illenesses are sudden changes in temperature, a weakened immune system, city pollution due to smoke, as well as overcrowding of kindergartens and shopping malls.
The most frequent respiratory diseases are:
- Common colds: this is the most common respiratory disease because it spreads easily. Children can have even eight to ten episodes a year. Special attention is recommended with children under two months not breastfed. Symptoms are mild coughs, nasal congestion, moderate temperature, and in some cases ear pain and a feeling slowed down. It is a relatively benign disease, usually not requiring any further intensive care.
- Flu: is one of the most contagious and severe illnesses. It may be complicated by bronchitis and pneumonia, a much more aggressive virus. It develops when the patient has high fever, respiratory distress, nasal congestion ears and feeling of slowing down, plus breathlessness and severe discomfort. Young children often have nausea and vomiting that could dehydrate them. The routes of transmission are through droplets of saliva and sneezing. Recovery is achieved with rest and intake of plenty of fluids, unless complicated by a bacterial infection. If the child has such symptoms, a visit to the pediatrician is advised.
- Bronchitis: It is caused by a respiratory virus, which particularly affects children under two. It is not as contagious as the flu but individually is more complex and severe. It affects bronchioles by inflamming them. Typified by mucus, it causes respiratory distress, vomiting and loss of appetite. Sometimes children need monitoring and should be admitted to a hospital. The younger the child, the more worrying it will be, even requiring intensive care in premature babies.
- Laryngitis: caused by inflammation of the larynx, one of the narrowest areas of the respiratory tract. It can lead to duct obstruction preventing the passage of air to the lungs. Symptoms are similar to the ones of a cold with a hoarse voice, aphonia and breathing difficulty. It requires emergency treatment with nebulisation, and is common at night.
- Pharyngitis: produced by inflammation of the pharynx, accompanied by sore throat, swollen glands, fever, nasal congestion, and headache. In many cases it is caused by a virus. However, it must be evaluated by a pediatrician.
- Otitis: an inflammation of the ear. Children can get this disease at any time of year, affecting specially those under three and babies. Otitis is a complication of influenza that may occur with fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and diarrhea. If the child presents irritability and touches his or her ears, theses could be symptoms of this illness. The treatment is based on analgesics, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, in some cases, and only if diagnosed by a specialist.
Tips to prevent respiratory diseases. Although so far, no drugs have been discovered directly fighting viral respiratory diseases, there are some tips that could help in preventing them:
- Wash hands often.
- Wash and disinfect commonly used items such as toys, bottles and eating utensils, where appropriate.
- Avoid closed and crowded places.
- Avoid polluted areas and smoke. Ventilate frequently spaces where the child remains.