What is bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is an infection of the lungs which affects tiny branching tubes like airways called bronchioles. The infection causes the airways to swell and fill with mucus making it hard to breathe.
Who gets affected?
It affects children less than 2 years of age. It is more common in premature babies, children with lung and heart problems and immunodeficiency.
What are the symptoms?
Bronchiolitis begins as a regular cold with a runny nose and/or a cough. As it progresses, more symptoms can develop over the next few days, including-
1. Trouble eating and drinking
2. Noisy breathing-whistling like sound when breathing or wheezing
3. Fast breathing
4. Severe cough
When should I take my child to see a doctor?
In most children, bronchiolitis goes away on its own. Visit your doctor if:
1. You’re worried about your child
2. Your child seems tired or irritable in absence of fever
3. Your child looks like he or she is having a hard time breathing or getting tired because of the effort taken for breathing
4. Your baby has fewer wet diapers than normal
How is bronchiolitis treated?
There is no medication for the viruses that cause bronchiolitis. The infection usually resolves on its own in 2 weeks.
In the hospital, the main treatment for bronchiolitis is aimed at making sure your child is getting enough oxygen.
Is there anything I can do to help my child feel better?
Yes. Below are some things you can do:
1. Make sure your child gets enough fluids to avoid dehydration
2. Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child
3. If your child is uncomfortable with the fever, you can give paracetamol to bring down their temperature.
Can bronchiolitis be prevented?
It is very difficult to prevent bronchiolitis, but you can take the following steps to reduce the risk of your child getting it:
1. Wash your and your child’s hands frequently.
2. Wash or wipe toys regularly
3. Keep your child away from people with cold or flu. If your child is sick keep him/her at home
4. Do not let people smoke around your child.