Will a child need critical care for severe respiratory infections?

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

Whether or not a child needs critical care for severe respiratory infections depends on how severe the respiratory infection. If extra oxygen is needed, admission to the hospital is required. How much oxygen is needed and how much respiratory distress the child has determines whether the child needs critical care or not. In addition, past medical history and age play a large role. For newborns, immune compromised and very sick children or underlying lung problems, a more conservative approach is taken. They may be admitted for critical care earlier for both treatment and because they have the potential to get worse more quickly.

If a child with a severe respiratory infection develops respiratory failure he or she will require critical care. At this point the chest muscles have tired and the child can no longer breathe adequately. This results in the oxygen lowering and carbon dioxide increasing in the blood. A ventilator will breathe for the child until the cause of respiratory distress improves.

Continue Learning about Children In Critical Care

What are some stressors hospitalized teenagers may experience?
Alliance For Kids®Alliance For Kids®
Some stressors that hospitalized teenagers may experience include the following: lack of trust ...
More Answers
How do dietitians help sick kids eat in the hospital?
Crystal RobertsonCrystal Robertson
Kids who are sick in the hospital can be picky eaters, and dietitians are there to help. In this vid...
More Answers
When should I take my child to the emergency room for a bite?
Wesley Medical CenterWesley Medical Center
When an animal, child or insect bites your child it can be frightening. Most bites are minor and can...
More Answers
How can I make sure my child gets good care in the emergency room (ER)?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
One way to make sure your child receives good care in the emergency room (ER) is to provide an accur...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.