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With the weather getting extremely cold, many diseases are spreading and affecting our children’s health. One of those common diseases is bronchitis, which is why as part of our How To Spot series, we’ll help you identify the symptoms of bronchitis, tell you how to prevent it and what treatments to undergo if your children are faced with it.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation that can be found in the large breathing tubes of the lungs known as bronchi. This illness can either be acute, meaning that it is short-term and doesn’t last for long or chronic, meaning that it has a long-lasting effect on the lungs.
Causes of Bronchitis:
When a virus affects the small airways in the lungs, bronchiolitis occurs. This leads to the swelling of the bronchioles and allows mucus to gather, making it hard for the air to flow freely in and out of the lungs. One of the most common causes of bronchitis is due to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This virus affects most babies by the age of two in the winter. However, bronchitis can also be due to other viruses such as those of the flu and common cold.
Symptoms of Bronchitis:
It is very common for bronchitis to start with a dry cough when the swelling of the lining of the bronchitis tubes occur and then it is followed by some or all of the following symptoms:
- Coughing with white, yellow or greenish mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness of chest
- Shivering and chills
- Feeling unwell and fatigued
- Vomiting or nausea
- Runny nose
- Back and muscle aches
These symptoms usually last between 7-14 days. However, it is not unlikely for the cough to stay with your child for a longer period than could last up to 3-4 weeks.
When should you see a doctor?
While it is normal for a child to have bronchitis, if they have a high fever that doesn’t go down or have trouble breathing, it is best to consult with your doctor and find the best treatments available. It is also advisable to see a doctor to ensure that your child isn’t suffering from something stronger such as pneumonia or asthma. In order to get the proper diagnosis, a doctor will have your child tested through the following options:
- Chest x-rays
- Pulse oximetry which helps measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.
- Sputum and nasal discharge samples which help find the germ causing the infection and identify whether it’s bronchitis or not.
Treatment of Bronchitis:
In most cases, bronchitis doesn’t require treatment and medication is just taken to help reduce the symptoms. However, antibiotics are not needed as bronchitis is mainly due to a viral infection and not a bacterial one. Here are a few ways to help your child overcome the symptoms of bronchitis:
- Get plenty of rest and avoid exerting effort.
- Drink lots of fluids to help reduce the inflammation.
- Medication for fever and pain such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used.
- Cough medicine can also be used to help with the cough.
Prevention of Bronchitis:
- Limit interaction with anyone who is sick.
- Disinfect common surface.
- Avoid spreading germs with coughs and sneezes by covering your mouth.
- Do not drink from the same glass as others.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Breastfeeding is said to help reduce the risks of babies getting infected.