Bronchiolitis is a lung infection caused by a virus. The average age of children who get it is about 6 months upper age limit is 2 years old.
Symptoms include wheezing which is a high pitched whistling sound, fast breathing that may involve retractions which is the chest wall moving in and out with breathing as the patient trys to get more air. More severe symptoms may include tight breathing trouble moving air trying to push air out.Cough is a predominant symptom. One of the classic symptoms in the case of bronchiolitis caused by RSV(Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is a profuse clear runny nose. It commonly presents with fever.
The physiology of bronchiolitis is the virus causing inflammation(swelling) of the smallest airways in the lung and causing them to narrow which makes the patient wheeze.
The virus is found in the nasal secretions of infected people. Sneezing or coughing can spread it to close contacts. It is also spread by hands after touching the nose or eyes.
Infection can be recurrent as one does not develop permanent immunity.
Illness can be mild, moderate or severe. It may require hospitalization but often can be managed at home. Severe symptoms average 2-3days overall wheezing about one week but cough can persist for about 2 weeks.
The most common complication is ear infection approximately 20% of children.
Bacterial pnuemonia is an uncommon complication.
Less than 5 % of children require hospitalization
Humidity.Dry air aggravates cough, humidifier is helpful
Encourage child to drink lots of fluids
Saline nasal suctioning of blocked nose
Avoid exposure to smoke
Warm fluids relieve coughing spasms by relaxing the airway and loosening secretions as does breathing warm ,moist air
Some children with bronchiolitis benefit from astma type medicines such as nebulizer treatments.
More Answers from Steven Gurland, MD