Bronchiolitis is a condition in children below the age of 2-3 years that can cause inflammation of the smaller airways in the lungs. It is similar to “bronchitis” which is seen in adolescents and adults, however bronchitis typically affects the larger airways in the lungs. It can also cause symptoms that are similar to asthma such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and cough. However, because your child developed bronchiolitis does not necessarily mean that your child has asthma.
Bronchiolitis is usually triggered by a viral upper respiratory infection, or what many would call a cold. It is more common in the winter and can be frequently associated with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Other viruses can cause bronchiolitis as well (Influenza, Human Metapneumovirus, Parainfluenza). Younger children and infants are more likely to develop bronchiolitis due to the relative immaturity of their immune systems and lungs. The main symptoms are cough, fast breathing, and wheezing. Some children will have low grade fever.
Using a humidifier, elevating the head of the bed, nasal suctioning with saline, and steam inhalation in the bathroom can all improve symptoms of bronchiolitis. Keep your child hydrated. If symptoms are not improving or if they are worsening, then call our office and see your pediatrician.