Bronchiolitis is a respiratory tract infection which causes inflammation of the bronchioles, and commonly occurs during fall, winter or early spring season. Bronchioles are small airways that lead to the lungs and the illness leads them to swell, get filled with mucus causing difficulty in breathing. The infection can affect babies under two years of age, but is more regularly seen in children who are between 3 to 6 months old. It is usually caused by a virus – Respiratory Syncytial Virus, but can also be developed due to influenza, cold, or adenovirus.
While bronchiolitis is just a really bad cold and most kids would get fine within a week, some can get severely affected due to exhaustion from excessive coughing, swelling of airways, or more adverse conditions like pneumonia or dehydration. If your child experiences any of the below mentioned symptoms, visit a doctor immediately.
Currently, there are no specific medicines or vaccinations available to treat the virus itself. However, it is possible to treat the symptoms and medicines should only be given to infants who are at a serious risk of developing an infection. Giving plenty of fluids like breast milk, using a bulb syringe to clear the nose, keeping the head elevated without using a pillow, and taking your child to a steamy bathroom are some of the best ways to deal with bronchiolitis.
Although there’s nothing concrete to prove that bronchiolitis causes asthma, but if your baby has been sick for over a week, take him/her to the doctor again and get a health checkup done to be on the safer side.
In rare cases where a baby is suffering from a weakened immune system or any other lung or heart-related problems, the risk of developing severe infection is high. Consult your doctor to check if your child requires monthly shots to prevent RSV infection.
Keeping your baby clean at all times and away from infected people will help you save him/her from all kinds of infections. Happy Parenting!