Bronchiolitis is an infectious disease which causes blockage of the small bronchioles in the respiratory system. The infection causes edema and that together with an accumulation of mucus causes a blockage in the airways. The disease usually manifests in the first two years of a child’s life, and usually during the fall and winter. The cause of the infection is almost always a virus (usually RSV). Premature babies, children with chronic heart and/or pulmonary disease and children who are immunosuppressant are likely to have a more severe case of bronchiolitis.
During the first three days of the disease, the child will exhibit signs of a cold – a runny nose, and a low-grade fever. This will be followed by coughing, wheezing, rapid breathing, loss of appetite and shortness of breath. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by eye and ear infections. The infection usually lasts between 4 and 10 days (with the first 2-3 being the most critical).
Remember! Infants can easily catch this from adults or older children, but due to their small size (especially premature babies) their infections tend to be more severe. Babies with bronchiolitis should be hospitalized and need supervision.
To verify that the disease is bronchiolitis, the nurse will take a sample of mucus from the nose which will be sent to the lab for testing. The results come in the next day or two.
Treatment of Bronchiolitis
Monitor your child’s condition
Inhalers; providing medication through an oxygen mask (adrenalin and ventolin),to clear up the airways. If the blood oxygen levels are low, your child will be given oxygen either through the nasal cavity, a mask or a plastic face mask.
Prevent dehydration – feed your child small meals every few hours; breast feeding is highly recommended
If the child is suffering from shortness of breath, he may be put on an IV drip to prevent food from getting into his airways.
The disease is contagious – therefore it is important to avoid contact with other children. Parents are requested to stay with the child in his room, Make sure to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after coming in contact with your child.
When the medical staff is certain the baby no longer requires hospital supervision, he will be discharged. The cough will go away on its own (it may take a while).
Avoid staying in unventilated areas with other children. Air out the house (open windows) to ease your baby’s breathing; this also serves to lower the concentration of viruses in the air. If your baby’s condition worsens, go back to the hospital. The child should drink a lot to avoid dehydration. Wash your hands thoroughly after contact. Your child should stay home until his cough is better.
Smoking can worsen the child’s condition