Bronchitis is a respiratory condition that is commonly seen in babies. This article will provide you with some information about treatment for the condition.
Most of us are familiar with the term bronchitis, a condition that affects the respiratory system. This condition may develop at any age, but babies are more prone as they have a weak immune system. It has been observed that bronchitis in babies usually develops during winter and early spring. The condition is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes and is mostly caused by worsening of common cold or flu. So, in most cases, bronchitis in infants and toddlers is caused by viruses. However, bacterial infection is also not uncommon.
There are two types of bronchitis – acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis can cause severe symptoms that may last for a few days to a week. The symptoms can be acute or severe in chronic bronchitis, which may also last longer. While acute bronchitis is often found to be caused by viral or bacterial infection, chronic ones are found to be caused by allergies that develop from irritants, smoke, etc. Bronchitis being a common condition in babies, it will be advisable for the parents to have a fair understanding about it.
Bronchitis in Babies – Causes and Symptoms
As mentioned above, the most common cause of bronchitis in babies is viruses. Among them, the respiratory syncytial virus is found to be the most common one that affects babies. Others include parainfluenza, mycoplasma, adenovirus, etc. However, bacterial infections and irritants that trigger allergies can also cause infant bronchitis. The onset of this condition is characterized with runny nose and sneezing, along with a slightly high body temperature.
Within a day or two, the baby will start a dry cough. The cough will worsen within a short span and the baby will produce yellowish to greenish mucus (while coughing). He/she may also start gagging and retching, along with cough. Some kids may also develop slight chest pain and wheezing. In case of severe bronchitis, fever may also worsen. It will take some time for the cough to subside, even though the condition is relieved.
Treatment for Bronchitis in Babies
If bronchitis is viral in origin (as seen in most cases), it will run its course till the condition subsides on its own. The only thing a doctor can do is to relieve the symptoms with medication and to prevent complications like pneumonia. If you notice any of the above said symptoms in your baby, get the condition diagnosed.
Take him/her to the doctor, who will detect the level of congestion with a stethoscope. Pulmonary function will be evaluated with spirometry. In some cases, X-rays and blood tests may also be recommended. In case the condition is caused by bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. However, antibiotics is not at all needed in case of viral bronchitis.
The mode of treatment may vary with the health condition of the baby and the symptoms. While mild cases may subside with no treatment. All that is needed is proper rest and good intake of warm fluids. Provide the baby with a clean and warm environment and prop his head up with pillows, so as to make breathing easier. Usually, expectorants, a bronchodilator inhaler and drugs for lowering fever are prescribed for treating bronchitis in babies.
While expectorants are used for thinning and loosening phlegm, bronchodilator inhalers help to open up the inflamed air passages, thereby relieving symptoms like wheezing and breathing trouble. Nasal saline solution may be prescribed for relieving congestion of the nose. Fever can be lowered with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc. While, cough suppressant may be used in cases with severe cough, it is not usually recommended, as it will prevent elimination of phlegm.
The above said is only a brief overview about how to treat bronchitis in babies. This article is only for informational purposes and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
In short, bronchitis is a condition that is common in babies and it can be relieved with proper treatment and care. However, consult your pediatrician at the earliest so as to get the condition diagnosed properly. You may prevent recurrence of bronchitis (in your baby) to some extent by maintaining good hygiene with frequent hand washing, adequate intake of liquids, proper rest and sleep. Keep the child away from infected kids, secondhand smoke and other irritants and allergens.