Bronchiolitis in Children Questions and Answers
At Night Lite Pediatrics, our urgent care clinic provides excellent care, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric bronchiolitis. Call Night Lite Pediatrics to book an appointment today. We serve patients from Greater Orlando, Jacksonville, West Melbourne, and Port St Lucie Florida areas.
Whether it is the common cold or a more concerning infection, such as bronchiolitis, the parental instinct to provide your child with the care they need is always present in such times. At Night Lite Pediatrics, our pediatricians would be happy to supplement that care with exceptional medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment to help them get feeling better as soon as possible.
What is bronchiolitis in children?
Bronchiolitis is a lung infection that causes inflammation in a child’s lungs’ bronchioles, restricting airflow in and out of their lungs. Your bronchioles are the smaller airways in your lungs that branch off from the lungs’ primary airways (bronchi) and lead to tiny air sacs in the lungs known as alveoli that store oxygen.
What causes bronchiolitis in a child?
Bronchiolitis is most commonly caused by viral infections in the upper respiratory tract, which includes the mouth, nose, and throat. Once the viral infection spreads downward from the mouth, nose, or throat into the windpipe (trachea) and lower respiratory tract, including your lungs, it causes inflammation, which can affect the bronchioles.
While the most common virus that causes bronchiolitis is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), it can also be caused by adenoviruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), influenza (seasonal flu), rhinovirus, and human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs). Bronchiolitis is only rarely caused by bacterial infections.
Bronchiolitis is most common in children younger than two years old and typically occurs in the late fall, winter, and early spring.
What are the symptoms of bronchiolitis in a child?
While bronchiolitis has many of the same symptoms that occur with the common cold or seasonal flu, it is typically a progression or worsening of the common cold. With that in mind, it is important to pay attention to the particular signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis in a child, including the following:
- Accessory respiratory muscle retractions in the ribs or neck
- Appetite loss
- Dry, raspy cough
- Fast breathing
- Nostril flaring
- Paradoxical breathing, which involves the child’s abdomen withdrawing inward during inhalation and moving outward during exhalation
- Runny nose
How is bronchiolitis diagnosed in a child?
There are several different ways that a family doctor or pediatrician can diagnose bronchiolitis in a child, which will likely include both a review of the child’s medical history and a physical examination. In many instances, a simple observation of the child’s symptoms and breathing is enough to diagnose bronchiolitis. However, some additional tests may be needed to diagnose bronchiolitis, which could include any of the following:
- Blood test: drawing a small vial of blood from the child’s arm, a blood test can indicate whether the infection is viral or bacterial.
- Chest X-ray: by making images of the internal tissues and bones around the lungs, a chest X-ray can indicate whether the child is dealing with bronchiolitis or another lung infection, such as pneumonia.
- Nasopharyngeal swab: swabbing the nose and throat with a long Q-tip, a nasopharyngeal swab takes a sample of saliva and mucus to analyze for RSV or another infection causing bronchiolitis.
- Pulse oximetry: by placing a pulse oximeter device on the child’s fingertip, the device shines a light through the finger to measure the oxygen saturation in the red blood cells, which can determine whether the child is dealing with restricted or limited airflow in the lungs.
How is bronchiolitis treated in a child?
While mild bronchiolitis can usually be treated safely at home in a similar fashion to the common cold, medical attention is likely required for more severe cases where symptoms continue to worsen or do not improve. In such situations, treatment may consist of intravenous (IV) fluids if the child is dehydrated, breathing assistance using extra oxygen or a ventilator, suctioning your child’s nose and mouth to get rid of thick mucus, or various breathing treatments prescribed by your child’s pediatrician.
When should I call Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care?
If your child has bronchiolitis and is having difficulty breathing, sleeping, or eating, or is breathing at a rapid rate, it is a good idea to seek medical attention to get proper care and treatment. In such situations, we welcome you to call us at Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care or come to one of our clinics nearest you for a walk-in appointment.