Respiratory Infections
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General Overview
Respiratory disorders in children are extremely common. The incidence generally decline with age, such that in middle teenage years, they are rare. Children <5 will have on average 6-8 RTI’s per year – recurrent RTI in a young child is not indicative of underlying disease.
The risk of life-threatening infection and hospital admission is greatest in younger children.
Respiratory disorders account for:
  • 30-50% of acute illness consultations in General Practice (depending on child’s age)
  • 20-30% of all acute hospital admissions in children
Also note that:
  • Asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood
The majority of RTI’s are self-limiting. 80-90% are viral; RSV (respiratory syncytical virus), rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, parainfluenza and influenza. However, the type of virus does not necessarily correspond to the clinical presentation –as one type of virus can cause several types of presentation.
The most common bacterial pathogen is Streptococcus pneumonia, and other bacterial infections are also often streptococcus. Other bacterial infections include haemophilus influenzae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough).
Aetiology for Respiratory tract infections
  • Male predominance
  • Low socio-economic status
  • High number of siblings
  • Parental (especially maternal) smoking
  • Born premature
  • Underlying respiratory disease (e.g. CF, congential abnormalities)
  • Immunodeficiency (rare) – e.g. HIV, or congenital; hypogammaglobuminaemia

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Dr Tom Leach

Dr Tom Leach MBChB DCH EMCert(ACEM) currently works as a GP Registrar and an Emergency Department CMO in Australia. He is also a Clinical Associate Lecturer at the Australian National University. After graduating from his medical degree at the University of Manchester in 2011, Tom completed his Foundation Training at Bolton Royal Hospital, before moving to Australia in 2013. He started almostadoctor whilst a third year medical student in 2009. Read full bio

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