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Bronchiolitis (Children)

What Is Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is an infection of the small airways of the lungs.

Causes Of Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is caused by the narrowing of the small airways in the lung (bronchioles). This narrowing may be caused by certain types of viruses, particularly the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). While infants with RSV develop bronchiolitis, older children and adults may merely develop common cold-type symptoms. The RSV virus is found in nasal secretions of infected individuals. It is spread by sneezing, coughing, hand-to-nose or hand-to-eye contact.

Signs And Symptoms Of Bronchiolitis

  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound produced when breathing out).
  • Rapid breathing with a rate of over 40 breaths per minute.
  • Laboured or difficult breathing.

Symptoms may worsen for three to five days before improving. Wheezing may last for more than five days, and the cough can last for more than 14 days.

Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Bronchiolitis

Administer the medicine to your child as prescribed by your doctor. Continue the medicine until your child's wheezing is gone for at least 24 hours. In addition, your child can be given paracetamol every 4 to 6 hours if the fever is over 38°C

Children with bronchiolitis usually do not need to be hospitalised unless they are very short of breath, need oxygen or are not eating or drinking well.
Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Bronchiolitis

​What can I do for my child at home?

  • Nasal washes for a blocked nose
  • If your child's nose is blocked, he or she may not be able to breastfeed or drink from a milk bottle. Place three drops of saline in each nostril. After about one minute, use a soft rubber suction bulb to suck out the mucus. You can repeat this several times until your child's breathing through the nose becomes quiet and easy.

  • Feeding
  • Encourage your child to drink adequate fluids. Feeding is often tiring so offer your child formula or breast milk in smaller amounts at more frequent intervals. If your child vomits during a coughing spasm, you may feed the child again.

  • No Smoking
  • Tobacco smoke aggravates coughing. The incidence of prolonged wheezing increases greatly in children who have an RSV infection and are exposed to passive smoking. Do not let anyone smoke around your child, especially in your home.

Bring your child to the Children's Emergency immediately if:

  • Your child's breathing becomes laboured or difficult.
  • Your child's breathing is faster than 40 breaths per minute when he or she is not crying.
  • Your child is lethargic, refuses to eat or drink, is irritable or unusually restless
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