Rhinopharyngitis in children: symptoms, causes and treatments

Rhinopharyngitis in children is a very common disease. It is the main reason for medical consultation in children between 6 months and 8 years. On average, at these ages the doctor is consulted up to six times a year for that reason.

It can be said that this disease affects all infants. The rhinopharyngitis in children, popularly known as cold or flu, is unavoidable during early childhood. Most of the time it is a condition that heals itself, although sometimes it can be complicated.

For all this, The rhinopharyngitis in children is the main cause of school absenteeism, during childhood. In fact, it is very common among children who go to daycare or school, since it is transmitted by direct contagion.

What is nasopharyngitis in children?

Rhinopharyngitis in children it is an infection that takes place in the respiratory tract. It also affects the pharynx and the nasal cavities. It is almost always a benign disease, although highly contagious, since it is mainly of viral origin.

It occurs more often in children, since they have an immature immune system and, therefore, it is not very effective in the defense against bacteria and viruses.

Its main characteristic is the inflammation of the mucosa that lines the nose and the pharynx, inside. The pharynx is behind the nostrils and mouth; it extends to the first area of ​​the respiratory system, just before the larynx.

Causes of the disease

Rhinopharyngitis in children obeys multiple causes, but the most frequent are:

  • Infectious
  • Allergic

Infectious rhinopharyngitis comprises almost all cases. The responsible one is, almost always, a rhinovirus. However, there are many other viruses with the ability to infect the mucosa of the rhinopharynx, such as adenovirus, coronavirus and parainfluenza, among more than 200.

Sometimes, the disease also obeys the action of some bacteria. Usually, a Haemophilus influenzae Y Streptococcus pyogenes. In this case, the symptoms are concentrated in the throat and then there is talk of pharyngitis or pharyngotonsillitis.

Allergic rhinopharyngitis occurs from exposure to an allergen agent, which is usually dust, pollen or mites. Each patient is allergic to different elements, so it should not be generalized. It is common that this type of rhinopharyngitis is exacerbated during the spring, by the proliferation of pollen.

Symptoms of rhinopharyngitis in children

The most common is that the disease develops when the child touches the eyes, nose or mouth with the hands, which have been previously infected. The first symptoms appear quickly. These include:

  • Nasal drip
  • General discomfort.
  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Sneezing
  • Nasopharyngeal irritation.
  • Cough.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Normally, children are listless and irritable. Rhinopharyngitis in children is a "self-limiting" disease. This means that, in general, it heals itself. However, it is important to keep symptoms under control, especially fever.

Sometimes, the disease ends up involving the ear, the bronchi, the paranasal sinuses, the tonsils and / or the larynx. In those cases it is better to go to the doctor. Also, if the fever is very high or the child has significant difficulty breathing.


The basic treatment of the disease is to manage the symptoms to reduce them. In general, over-the-counter medications with antihistamine, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects are used. These serve to control inflammation, pain and fever spikes.

One of the most annoying symptoms for children is nasal congestion. This can be relieved by doing nose washes with saline, or by constantly sounding the child. If the case is very severe, it is indicated to use a nasal decongestant in spray.

When the causative agent of the disease is a bacterium, doctors often resort to antibiotics. They should never be taken on their own, but should have the approval of the professional.

In cases of allergic rhinopharyngitis, the first measure to be taken is the identification of the allergen agent. Once this is done, it is right to avoid exposure to it. Sometimes, the doctor prescribes medications to prevent rhinopharyngitis from being unleashed.