One of the most common lung diseases that could affect your infant is bronchiolitis. This disease can make your child uncomfortable. Fortunately, it is not a serious problem for most babies and may resolve itself with proper home care. Here is more information about bronchiolitis, its causes, and signs that your child needs to see a doctor.
What is the Difference Between Bronchiolitis and Bronchitis?
Bronchiolitis affects the smallest airways in the lungs, the bronchioles. These airways are located right next to the small alveoli, or air sacks, deep in the lungs. Bronchitis usually affects the larger airways called the bronchi. Both bronchitis and bronchiolitis cause wheezing and difficulty breathing. Bronchiolitis often affects children under two or three years old, while bronchitis can affect anyone of any age.
How Do Infants Acquire Bronchiolitis?
Most infants acquire bronchiolitis through a virus. The most common virus is respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The common cold is also another cause. Most children are exposed to RSV for the first time as infants. The virus is usually spread from person to person like a common cold. Children also get respiratory viruses from sharing utensils or playing with contaminated toys. Often, the symptoms are similar to a cold, and infections are usually most common during the cold and flu season.
What Home Treatments Help Bronchiolitis?
Make sure your child gets enough fluids and nutrition when sick. You can also use a cool-mist vaporizer to help with breathing. Saline nose drops help with any type of nasal congestion that is often associated with RSV. Talk to your doctor before giving your child any medications. To prevent the spread of any associated viruses to other children, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after caring for your child. Make sure to keep your child away from secondhand smoke that can further irritate their lungs.
When Should One Consult a Pediatrician for Bronchiolitis?
For most children, bronchiolitis resolves itself within a week or two. If symptoms continue for longer, then see your pediatrician to rule out other lung issues. Also, if your child is unable to eat or drink or he or she is severely struggling to breathe, then seek medical attention. If your child was born premature or has other chronic conditions, then contact your doctor right away for advice.
Most children recover from bronchiolitis with little or no side effects. As your child grows, the lung passages become larger and are less susceptible to serious cases of the disease. Difficulty breathing can affect your child's physical and mental health. Any time your child develops a breathing problem, see your pediatrician right away. Speak with a doctor like Dr. Baynham for more information.