Bronchiolitis involves inflammation of the bronchioles. It is usually triggered by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) but other viruses might also be blamed.
Most cases involve children ages 12 months and typically occur among infants aged 3-6 months. Those who are at high risk for developing serious illness with bronchiolitis include:
- Infants with heart conditions
- Premature babies
- Infants who already have a lung condition
What are the indications?
- Cold symptoms such as cough, runny nose and fever in the initial 2-3 days.
- Rapid breathing, difficulty breathing and wheezing
- Flaring of nostrils and worsening cough
- Evident inward movement of the muscles between the ribs during every breath. It indicates that the child requires more effort than normal to breath.
- Infant has difficulty feeding
These symptoms peak in severity 2-3 days after the onset. Take note that the severity varies from mild to severe with serious breathing issues. After peaking, the symptoms gradually ease and settle within 1-2 weeks. In some instances, the irritating cough might linger for several weeks after the symptoms have settled.
It is important to note the bronchiolitis is a self-limiting condition. It simply means that it normally settles once the immune system clears up the virus. The objective of treatment includes the following:
- Ensure that the child will not end up dehydrated
- Assist with breathing if there is difficulty
- Being alert for possible complications
The symptoms do not become severe in most instances. The doctor will check if the child does not have any indications of dehydration and able to breathe well. It is a good sign if the child is feeding and drinking well.
The breathing of the child will be easier if he/she sleeps with the head of the cot slightly elevated.
Some infants are hospitalized usually for a short time. The reason for admission is concern over poor feeding or drinking. In the healthcare facility, the baby is fed via a tube passed into the stomach if needed. Oxygen can be used to help with breathing until the infection settles.