What is bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is a disease of the lung that leads to difficulty in breathing, wheezing and symptoms similar to asthma. It is usually seen in children between 4 months to 2 years of age.
What is the cause of bronchiolitis?
Viral infections such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, parainfluenza virus etc cause inflammation (swelling) of the small airways of the lung (bronchioles) leading to narrowing of the air passage. This causes wheezing and rapid respiration with difficulty in breathing. It is seen in infants predominantly as their bronchioles are small in size and if there is even a little swelling, the air passage through the lungs becomes difficult. As the child grows older, the bronchioles become bigger and on inflammation does not cause severe problems.
What happens if a child has bronchiolitis?
A child with bronchiolitis will have wheezing and rapid breathing that may worsen for 2-3 days and then gradually improve. Occasionally the wheeze may last more than 7 days and the cough more than 14 days.
What is the treatment for bronchiolitis?
If the symptoms are severe, the child may need hospitalization for oxygen and intravenous fluids. At home, ensure that your child gets adequate fluids, as loss of water through respiration is more. Avoid smoking within the home. If the nose is blocked, saline drops can be put in each nostril to remove the dry or sticky mucus. Sometimes, if the bronchiolitis is due to RSV, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication for it.
What are the danger signs one should look for?
Your child should be immediately brought to the hospital if:
· Breathing is difficult
· Child is lethargic or refuses to feed
· Breathing is more than 60 breaths/minute.
created on 01-01-2005
updated on 18-11-2006