Bronchiolitis is an airway infection that causes inflammation and blockage in the bronchioles or small respiratory tracts in the lungs. This condition is generally experienced by infants to children aged two and under. Initially, a child affected by bronchiolitis will look like a common cold with symptoms of mild cough and runny nose. A few days later, symptoms will develop. Children will often experience a dry cough with wheezing and fever. In addition, he will be hard to eat.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are mild. Symptoms of this disease will usually subside less than three weeks without treatment required. However, there are also a small number of cases of bronchiolitis whose symptoms are quite serious. Therefore, parents still have to beware.
Take your child to the doctor if the fever remains high, shortness of breath, fuss, looks very tired, and the portion of the meal is reduced drastically. Also, take your child to the doctor if he shows signs of dehydration (can be seen from his rare urine). If shortness of breath gets worse causing the skin to become pale, the lips and tongue look blue, and the body sweats, or there is a long enough breathing stop, immediately take your child to the hospital or call an ambulance.
Causes of Bronchiolitis
A number of viruses can cause bronchiolitis, including flu viruses and colds. However, the type of virus that most often causes this condition (especially in children younger than two years) is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Children are usually infected with the virus when they are near the patient and are exposed to splashing from coughing or sneezing. In addition, transmission can also occur through intermediaries, such as toys. When items that have been contaminated by viruses are held by children and their hands touching the mouth or nose, it is likely that transmission will occur.
Here are some conditions that can increase a child's risk of bronchiolitis, including:
- Have low immunity.
- Born prematurely.
- Less than three months old.
- Never get milk. Breast-fed children have better body immunity than those who do not.
- Live in a congested environment.
- Often make contact with other children.
- Often exposed to cigarette smoke.
- Have a lung or heart disease.
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Diagnosis of Bronchiolitis
Generally bronchiolitis can be detected by the doctor through confirmation of symptoms experienced by children, such as cough, colds, and fever. In addition, physical examination will be done by looking at the child's breathing condition that can be heard by the doctor by using a stethoscope.
If the doctor is unsure of the cause of the symptoms (asthma and cystic fibrosis may also cause symptoms similar to bronchiolitis), further tests may be performed. Examples of such follow-up examination are viral examination through mucus samples, blood oxygen levels examination using oximeter, blood test, and urine test.
Treatment of Bronchiolitis
If your child has bronchiolitis and is not severe, your doctor will usually advise you to do home care. Examples of home treatments for this condition are:
- Resting children
- and give him plenty of fluids (including breast milk and formula). This is done to prevent dehydration.
- Make your child's room comfortable by installing an air humidifier.
- Sterilize your child's room from air pollution (especially cigarette smoke).
- Provide heat-free medication in pharmacies (eg ibuprofen and paracetamol) if your child has a fever according to the dose recommended by the physician or on the usage instructions indicated on the package. Paracetamol may be given to children over two months of age, and iburophen may be given to children over three months of age weighing at least five kilograms. Do not give aspirin because this drug is for people aged 16 years and over.
- Provide saline drops (salt-packed) that can be bought freely at the pharmacy to relieve your child's blocked nose.
Complications often occur in cases of severe bronchiolitis. Some examples of these complications are:
- Failed breathing or lack of oxygen levels in the body
- Cyanosis is characterized by skin and lips are blue due to lack of oxygen
- Apnea or breathing pauses.
Prevention of Bronchiolitis
To minimize your child's risk of getting bronchiolitis, keep children away from people who show symptoms of the disease or other airway diseases. Wash your hands and your child regularly to avoid transmission of the virus when you touch the Little One or through intermediate objects. If a friend or family wants to hold your child, ask them to wash their hands first. Also, keep your child away from exposure to secondhand smoke.
If your child is sick with bronchiolitis, take off all the usual activities they do outside to avoid transmitting the disease to others. Take care of your child at home until healed.
In children who are at high risk for bronchiolitis (such as having low immunity, lung or heart disease at birth, and premature birth), doctors usually recommend an injection of antibodies each month.