Recurrent respiratory infections: why not talking about it any more?

Minerva Pediatr. 2008 Dec;60(6):1411-6.


Recurrent respiratory infections (RRIs) are a common and benign condition affecting about 6% of schoolchildren. Only mild, likely postinfective, modifications of the immune system have been proven, and parents should be reassured that the condition is self-limited. Nevertheless, if not correctly diagnosed, children may undergo several unnecessary investigations and multiple antibiotic courses. On the other hand, in some cases, efforts should be made to identify promptly possible underlying disease, including congenital or acquired immunodeficiency, vascular or airways malformation, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, or immotile-cilia syndrome. Careful medical history and clinical examination are usually sufficient to distinguish RRIs and no further research is generally needed. In uncertain cases a complete blood count with differential and the evaluation of total immunoglobulin serum levels are sufficient to exclude neutropenia, T- or B-lymphocyte defects, and selective IgA deficiency. It is essential to observe environmental risk factors: reducing environmental tobacco smoke at home is a fundamental goal and the postponed enrolment of children at day-care centres reduces the risk of RRIs. Antibiotic treatment are not justified since they do not shorten the course of the condition or prevent complications. Use of anti-cough syrups should be avoided. Nasal lavage with saline serum and the blowing are the only justified interventions. Adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy should be planned only in conditions included in validated guidelines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / therapy
  • Risk Factors