How to deal with acute respiratory infections

How to deal with acute respiratory infections

Acute Respiratory infections

Children often catch colds, and their parents worry about them even more often. Today, advice on how to get sick less often is shared by Anna Nikolaevna Kosova – a pediatrician, allergist, immunologist, consultant at a school for pregnant women. Anna Nikolaevna conducts telemedicine consultations.

What is ARI ?

ARI is an acute respiratory disease with symptoms of the common cold. Most often, acute respiratory infections are caused by viral infections, then they are called ARVI. They usually go away on their own within a week. Less commonly, the nature of the infection is bacterial. In this case, serious treatment may be required. 

Respiratory infections are transmitted through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nasopharynx. They get on a person when talking, coughing, sneezing, using common utensils. The sick person may not know that he has caught the infection for a couple of days, but spread it further. 

If respiratory viruses have entered the body of a healthy person, this does not mean that he will definitely get sick. The following methods will help to resist infections. 


The main route of transmission of respiratory infections is the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. Accidentally or on purpose, we constantly touch them with our hands, which during the day could get viruses and bacteria. Therefore, it is important to maintain hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water before eating, after returning home, during the day. If there is no water and soap nearby, then wipe your hands with antiseptics. And, of course, try not to touch your mouth, nose, eyes with your hands.


Among all SARS, vaccination is only for influenza . It is seasonal, that is, it is updated every year in accordance with the predicted flu strains for the coming season. Influenza is insidious because of the lightning speed of its development: the incubation period is only a few hours. Therefore, you need to get vaccinated every year. 

More vaccinations against bacterial infections. Vaccination against pneumococcal and hemophilic infections is provided for by the national immunization schedule . They are made for children from 2 months to 5 years old. The schedule and frequency of vaccination depend on the age at the time of its initiation. It is better to be vaccinated according to the calendar from a very early age – young children are more at risk of a severe course of these infections. 

But over the age of 5 and adults, the pneumococcal vaccine is recommended only in the presence of chronic diseases, such as bronchial asthma, adenoid hypertrophy, diabetes mellitus, pathology of the immune system and others. Smoking is also an indication for pneumococcal vaccination for adults.

Vaccination against meningococcal infection has not been introduced into the national calendar, but vaccines ( Menaktra, Menveo ) are registered in Russia and are recommended for the prevention of severe consequences of meningococcal infection.


Infections can cause colds, but we know from experience how easy it is to get sick if you get your feet wet, forget your hat, or sit in a draft. Hypothermia decreases resistance to infection. Science has this explanation: for an unprepared person, hypothermia is stress. A decrease in temperature disrupts blood microcirculation in the area of the “entrance gate” of the infection – the nose and mouth. Together, this increases the risk of getting sick.

So accustoming the body to the coolness of the environment – hardening – really makes sense. It is not at all necessary to dive into an ice hole or wipe yourself off with snow. It is enough just not to wrap up the child, not to be afraid of open vents, but not to leave the child alone next to an open window), complete the bathing with a cool shower . Also, classes in the pool and winter sports are tempered: skiing, hockey, figure skating. In general, any physical activity , even regular walks, reduces the potential stress from hypothermia in the future. 

Of course, a healthy lifestyle is not one hundred percent protection against the flu or meningococcal infection. If the body first encounters a highly infectious pathogen, the risk of getting sick is very high. Therefore, hardening does not replace, but complements vaccination. 


Food. A child’s diet should contain a sufficient amount of protein (meat, fish, poultry, offal) – this is the building material of the whole organism, including the components of the immune system, the same immunoglobulins. 

Carbohydrates (cereals, cereals, vegetables, fruits) are the main source of energy and many vitamins and microelements. The World Health Organization recommends consuming at least 5 servings a day of vegetables and fruits. 

Fats are also a source of energy, a building material for cell membranes and some hormones, a source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E). We get them with meat, dairy products, nuts, vegetable oils.

Positive emotions. Surely everyone at least once faced a situation when, after experiencing stress, negative events, a cold also joins. The fact is that stress hormones inhibit the activity of the immune system. Therefore, in addition to a healthy lifestyle, a favorable atmosphere of love, support and mutual understanding in the family and at school is important.

Adequate sleep. Adequate amount of sleep is essential for optimal physical, immune, mental and mental well-being (health). A kindergartner needs 10-13 hours, a student needs 8-11 hours, an adult needs 7-9. This is individual, and the main thing is that the state of health and performance does not suffer. 

What won’t help 

Multivitamins, supplements. Adequate nutrition provides the body with everything it needs. It has been proven that vitamins and minerals from food are absorbed much better than from multivitamin complexes. Therefore, taking dietary supplements without a doctor’s prescription and a diagnosed deficiency is not recommended. 

The only thing in Russia in the autumn-winter period, when the sun – the main source of vitamin D – is not enough, you can take vitamin D. For the European north of the country, the Ministry of Health and the Union of Pediatricians of Russia recommend 1000 IU for children up to six months, and from six months – 1500 IU of vitamin D every day. 

Also, echinacea preparations , garlic, shock doses of vitamin C have not proven their effectiveness in preventing colds.

Homeopathic and release-active medicines. They have neither prophylactic nor curative effect . There is also little data on their safety. The main method of producing homeopathic medicines is multiple dilution of the active substance with water. As a result, not a single drug molecule remains in the solution – only water.

Immunomodulators. There are few data on the benefits and safety of pharmaceutical immunomodulators, interferon inducers. In pediatric practice, only bacterial lysates are allowed, but their effectiveness is extremely low. They are not recommended for preventing or treating the common cold. Our immune system is already smart and does not need additional stimulation. 

Probiotics. The effectiveness of probiotics for the prevention of ARVI is unknown to science, and you should not rely on them. It is better to use full-fledged dairy and fermented milk products , enjoy their taste and, along the way, get calcium, proteins and useful lacto- and bifidobacteria.

It’s okay to have a cold

A bit of a surprise conclusion, but the best immunity training is to deal with viruses and bacteria. Most of them do not pose a serious threat, and the body copes with it. But as a result of these battles, an immune response is formed, and after victory – an immune memory. Immunity becomes more experienced, which means it becomes stronger. 

That is why, the older the child, the less often he gets colds. The most “snotty” children are those who go to kindergarten in their early years. Then it gets easier.