Care of the Child with Respiratory Disorder

Categories: Nursing
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About Course

Respiratory disorders are the
most common causes of illness and hospitalization in
children. These illnesses range from mild, non-acute disorders (such as the common cold or sore throat), to acute
disorders (such as bronchiolitis), to chronic conditions
(such as asthma), to serious life-threatening conditions
(such as epiglottitis). Chronic disorders, such as allergic
rhinitis, can affect quality of life, but frequent acute or
recurrent infections also can interfere significantly with
quality of life for some children.

What Will You Learn?

  • Respiratory infections account for the majority of
  • acute illness in children. The child’s age and living conditions and the season of the year can influence the etiology of respiratory disorders as well as the course of
  • illness. For example, younger children and infants are
  • more likely to deteriorate quickly. Lower socioeconomic
  • status places children at higher risk for increased severity or increased frequency of disease. Certain viruses are
  • more prevalent in the winter, whereas allergen-related
  • respiratory diseases are more prevalent in the spring and
  • fall. Children with chronic illness such as diabetes, congenital heart disease, sickle cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis and children with developmental disorders such as
  • cerebral palsy tend to be more severely affected with respiratory disorders. Parents might have difficulty in
  • determining the severity of their child’s condition and
  • might either seek care very early in the course of the illness (when it is still very mild) or wait and present to the
  • health care setting when the child is very ill.
  • Nurses must be familiar with respiratory conditions
  • affecting children in order to provide guidance and support to families. When children become ill, families often
  • encounter nurses in outpatient settings first. Nurses must
  • be able to ask questions that can help determine the severity of the child’s illness and determine whether they must
  • seek care at a health facility. Since respiratory illness
  • accounts for the majority of pediatric admissions to general hospitals, nurses caring for children require expert
  • assessment and intervention skills in this area. Detection
  • of worsening respiratory status early in the course of deterioration allows for timely treatment and the possibility
  • of preventing a minor problem from becoming a critical
  • illness. Difficulty with breathing can be very frightening
  • for both the child and parents. The child and the family
  • need the nurse’s support throughout the course of a respiratory illness.