Certainly, a child growing healthily brings joy to parents as it means more valuable time for parents to create more lovely bonding moments. Vice versa, a sick child can be every parent’s nightmare and what is worst causing both sides to have sleepless nights and immense distress. Parents probably ask a doctor what they can do to help their sick child for proper recovery. In this article, we will be talking on bronchiolitis, a respiratory disease that usually affects children.
Bronchiolitis is a lung infection which commonly affects babies and young children especially under the age of 2. This disease costs great discomfort as it may cause difficulty to breathe well. This lung infection is associated with viral infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) but not limited to other viruses such as adenovirus, human rhinovirus, coronavirus and parainfluenza virus. There are few risk factors causing infants to easily catch this lung infections, this includes baby with low birth weight or premature, child with other heart and lung conditions, health disorder linked with low immune, a baby aged less than 5 months upon catching the viral infection and environmental factors such as overcrowded living spaces and low socioeconomic population.
Generally known, not all children are able to tell what is wrong with them, let alone telling symptoms of bronchiolitis. Parents can suspect their child having this disease when a child:
- frequent sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- fever with temperature slightly above 38C
- wheezing sound when breathing
- breathing faster than usual
- difficulty to eat or hard to feed
- irritable and cry more often
Bronchiolitis is usually mild and self-limited infections, meaning the infection can be resolved by itself without much treatment needed. There are no specific treatments for this disease and most of the cases do not need hospitalisation. Parents can take care of them at home and by giving over-the-counter medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. To help a child to breathe easily, a child can be placed upright when they are wide awake. Keeping a child hydrated can help them recover fast and helps them to eat well. Parents may achieve this by encouraging their child to drink more water or diluted fruits juices in smaller yet frequent feeds. Saline drops can be used to help relieve the blocked nose.
Although bronchiolitis, as mentioned, is not going to cause serious problems, parents need to note that it may get worse especially in the 3rd and 5th days. Worsening symptoms such as bluish skin, tongues or lips, a floppy behaviour, noticing a child having breathing difficulty through signs of grunting noises or as if the stomach skin got sucked under the ribs, or pauses in breathing, should clearly indicates the need to urgently bring the child to the emergency department. This is because these groups of children need intensive hydration treatment and oxygen treatment such as humidified oxygen and nebulized hypertonic saline which are commonly available in hospitals. Some children with severe bronchiolitis may even need to be admitted to intensive care to avoid respiratory failure.
As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Parents can actually play a role in helping their child from getting viral infections. Prevention that can be taken are:
- never smoke around a child as it creates higher risk for developing bronchiolitis
- practice good hand hygiene by washing hands both parents and the child
- make sure toys and surfaces child getting exposed to are clean by washing or wiping with antiseptic
- keep some distance between the child with anyone around that have cold or flu. Take multivitamins for better health.