What is Bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is an infection in the lungs caused by a virus. It affects small breathing tubes of children of age less than two years.
Cause of Bronchiolitis
Bronchiolitis can be caused due to many viruses, but the most common virus to cause bronchiolitis in kids every winter is the Respiratory syncytial virus or “RSV”. The RSV virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, and via physical contact.
Symptoms of Bronchiolitis
Most children with bronchiolitis experience mild symptoms and recover within 2-3 weeks. Early symptoms of bronchiolitis in kids are usually similar to those of a common cold, such as a blocked or a runny nose, a cough, a sneeze, and a slightly high temperature (fever).
The symptoms get worse during the next few days, before gradually improving. During this time, your child may develop some of the following symptoms:
- rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing)
- vomiting after feeding
- a rasping and persistent dry cough
- brief pauses in their breathing
- feeding less and having fewer wet nappies
- being irritable
Most cases of bronchiolitis aren’t serious, but the symptoms can be very worrying. Bronchiolitis is usually at its worst on the second or third day and can last for up to 10 days. The wheezing and the fast breathing settles as your baby’s condition improves. However, cough can last longer.
How Bronchiolitis Sffects Your Kid’s Body?
The infections that cause bronchiolitis are contagious. The germs can spread from an infected person’s nose and mouth, via sneezes, coughs, or laughs, and also can end up on things the person has touched, such as used tissues or toys.
The RSV virus essentially inflames bronchioles, leading to partial or complete blockage of airways, often characterized by wheezing. As less amount of oxygen enters the child’s lungs, blood levels in the body also decrease. The symptoms of Bronchiolitis are very similar to other more common lung diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How To Treat Bronchiolitis?
There is no special medicine to treat Bronchiolitis. So if you want to make your kid feel better, consider these points:
- Just make sure to give fluids (every 1- 2 hours) to keep your kid hydrated.
- Use saline nose drops to loosen the mucus in the nose. If saline drops are not helping, you might need to use nose bulb gently to remove mucus from the nose. Keeping your child in an upright position can improve breathing.
- Use medicines such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) to reduce fever. Don’t use aspirin. Antibiotics will not help since bronchiolitis is caused by a virus (not bacteria).