What Is Bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is a lung infection that is common among infants and young children. It’s caused by a virus (Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV) that affects the smallest air passages in the lungs (bronchioles). The bronchioles are responsible to control airflow in your lungs. When they get infected or damaged, they can swell or become clogged. This blocks the flow of oxygen. The children of age less than 2 years have a high risk of getting infected by this viral infection. Although it’s generally a childhood condition, this doesn’t mean that adults don’t have any risk.
Types Of Bronchiolitis
Bronchiolitis is of two types:
- The risk of Viral bronchiolitis is more in infants. Most cases of viral bronchiolitis are due to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Viral outbreaks occur every winter and affect children under the age of 1 year old.
- The other Bronchiolitis condition is Obliterans. It’s a very rare and dangerous condition that is usually seen in adults. This disease is responsible for causing scarring in the bronchioles. The scarring of bronchioles block the air passages creating an airway obstruction that can’t be reversed.
Symptoms Of Bronchiolitis
Both viral bronchiolitis and bronchiolitis obliterans are similar to each other and have similar symptoms. These include:
- shortness of breath
- blue skin due to lack of oxygen
- rattling or crackling sounds from the lungs
- ribs that appear sunken during attempts to inhale (in children)
- nasal flaring (in babies)
- fast breathing
A lung infection can take several months to several years to produce symptoms.
How To Treat Bronchiolitis?
There is no special medicine that can help your child get better. If your child is suffering from bronchiolitis, make sure to do these things:
- Give your child lots of fluids to keep hydrated, as often as every one or two hours.
- Use saline nose drops to loosen the mucus in the nose. Moreover, you may need to use a nose bulb very gently to remove mucus from the nose.
- Give medicines such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) to treat fever. These medicines can help make your child feel better. Make sure not to use aspirin to treat your kid’s fever. Also, consult with your kid’s doctor before giving any cough or cold medicine.
- Antibiotics will not help as bronchiolitis occurs due to virus attack (not bacteria).
When You Should Call Your Child’s Prescriber?
Call your prescriber or go to the emergency room if your child:
- has dry gums and tongue
- does not drink liquids
- has nostrils that move in and out when breathing
- is breathing faster than usual
- has blue lips or mouth
- does not have wet diapers
- is more sleepy than normal
- does not improve within a week
How To Prevent Bronchiolitis?
There are a few things you can do to prevent bronchiolitis.
- Do not smoke around your child.
- Make sure you and your child get a flu shot every year.
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub often before touching your child. Or, wash your hands with soap and water.
- Avoid being near people who are sick with cough and cold symptoms.