It’s that time of year when cold and cough viruses are all around us and when our babies and toddlers are most vulnerable to catching them.
With a rise in the number of viruses around, we thought we would share the lowdown on a respiratory virus which is most common in our very young babies and toddlers - bronchiolitis.
It so happens that this week our niece (4 years old) and nephew (10 months old) became ill with bronchiolitis and both ended up with a trip to hospital with the youngest being admitted for the day.
What exactly is Bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is a viral infection which affects the lower respiratory tract of babies and toddlers. It causes inflammation of the airways down in the base of the lungs, which causes them to become narrow and so it is difficult to squeeze the air in and out with each breath.
Bronchiolitis is almost always caused by viruses, with the three most common viruses being:
· RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
· Common Cold (Rhinovirus)
· Influenza (Flu)
Bronchiolitis typically affects children up to the age of 2 years old and is most prevalent in babies up to 6 months old. For babies up to 1 year old it is very common, affecting around 11 out of every 100 babies.
It most commonly occurs in the winter months, but can be seen from November to April.
Symptoms of Bronchiolitis:
The virus usually starts with typical cold-like symptoms of a runny nose, cough, mild fever. After a few days of symptoms starting, children develop breathing difficulties, which can rapidly worsen, especially as the cough worsens. Wheezing is often audible, caused by the narrowing of the airways and sounds like a high pitched squeak as they try to force the air out.
Due to the congestion and narrowed airways children will often breathe more rapidly in order to try to increase their oxygen intake.
What to do if you suspect your baby or toddler has bronchiolitis:
If you notice your baby or toddler is wheezing or finding it harder breathe, it’s best to call your doctor or 111 if it is out of surgery hours.
Due to the congestion it is important to try and keep your little one hydrated and offer them fluids as much as possible.
Most babies and toddlers will recover with rest and plenty of fluids within 3-5 days, although some of the viral symptoms, such as the cough may continue for 2 – 4 weeks.
When Hospital is Required:
If your baby or toddler is fatigued by an increasing difficulty to breathe, or their lips or finger/toe nails are blueish, they should seek treatment at hospital. Here they will be able to give them oxygen as well as nebulisers, which administer medicine into the lungs via a fine mist.
These medicines will help to open up the airways and allow the respiratory muscles to relax, thus giving your little one chance to rest. The hospital will also be able to administer fluids via a drip if your baby or toddler has become dehydrated.
Even if your little one needs hospital treatment (and don’t be afraid to go to the hospital if you are concerned), most will make a good recovery within a week.
Plenty of fluid and rest are incredibly important to making a speedy recovery as they give the body chance to fight the virus and reduce the inflammation in the airways. Whenever possible allow your baby or toddler to rest at home in quiet without too much distraction.
Even if they aren’t sleeping during the day, giving them chance just to rest in front of the TV will give their body valuable healing time.
Wishing you and your family good health,
The Bamboo Baby Company