Different respiratory infections and even allergy pictures can cause respiratory tract alterations in children. Bronchiolitis has particular characteristics and generally affects babies and young children.The arrival of seasons like autumn and winter in different latitudes worries both families and health professionals. The reason in general is the increase in the appearance of respiratory diseases. The younger the age of the child who acquires bronchiolitis, the greater the concern, and even more so when it comes to babies.
Bronchiolitis in babies
Bronchiolitis is a disease of the airways that occurs when the bronchioles(the smallest and last part of the bronchi) become inflamed due to an infection usually of viral origin. Thus, these canaliculi present edema and increased secretions that can cause difficulty in breathing.
According to information, the appearance of bronchiolitis is more frequent in babies under one year of age and accounts for 18% of all pediatric hospitalizations. Respiratory syncytial virus(RSV) is usually the most involved, but adenoviruses and influenza viruses may also be responsible.
What is the most frequent form of appearance?
After a short incubation period, manifestations similar to those of a common cold may appear. Therefore, its symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, cough, and bouts of mild fever.
Progressively, the cough becomes more persistent and what seemed to be a banal picture cease to be so. Thus, irritability, refusal to eat, increased frequency and respiratory distress can be added. The latter of increasing intensity reaches its maximum expression in general in 24 or 48 hours, at which time most of the hospital admissions occur, and then gradually improve.
Data of interest…
According to researchers:
“Most are mild forms and the symptoms disappear in less than a week, although the cough, which is the last symptom to disappear, can persist up to 3-4 weeks.”
What should we do when the first symptoms of bronchiolitis appear in babies?
- On the one hand, it is essential to remain calm so that we can act calmly.
- It is important to ensure good hydration of the baby to help fluidize secretions. In addition, it must be taken into account that, sometimes, agitation and increased respiratory rate require that the intake of liquids be done in very small amounts and more frequently.
- In this sense, researchers pointed out that:
- “The critical aspect of the pathology occurs when the disease progresses and the lung cannot fulfill its basic function of oxygenation, which leads to a picture of respiratory failure.”
- The lack of oxygen in the blood and tissues and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can endanger the life of the child who suffers from it.” In these situations, hospitalization and oxygen administration is required”- he explained.
Considering that bronchiolitis generally affects babies and very young children, it is important to consult early with a health professional to assess the child’s condition, the type of respiration and hydration, as well as the presence or absence of fever.
Another element worth highlighting is avoiding tobacco use and environments that present a large amount of pollution . As a study published in research concludes, “In the context of exposure to air pollution, tobacco use causes additional loss of lung function and exacerbates respiratory symptoms.”
It is suggested to carry out periodic follow-up visits after the treatment has been established to be aware of possible complications. It should also be done whether or not the evolution is desirable and expected.