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Bronchiolitis mostly affects infants and toddlers age 2 and younger and is caused by swollen airways (bronchioles) that collect with mucus and make it hard to breathe. Bronchitis mostly affects older children and adults. It results in swelling in the upper airway — the trachea and upper bronchial tubes. In addition, bronchiolitis normally goes away in a few weeks, whereas bronchitis can become a long-term (chronic) condition and is often caused by lung irritants, such as cigarette smoke. However, both conditions can be caused by a viral infection Bronchiolitis is almost always caused by a virus. Typically, the peak time for bronchiolitis is during the winter months.
Bronchiolitis starts out with symptoms similar to those of a common cold but then progresses to coughing, wheezing and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms of bronchiolitis can last for several days to weeks, even a month.
Most children get better with care at home. A very small percentage of children require hospitalization.
Bronchiolitis itself is not contagious. However, the viruses that can cause bronchiolitis are contagious. The viruses are very common and spread easily through coughs, sneezing, talking or touching shared objects. RSV has at least two strains and infects nearly every child by the age of 2. Other viruses, such as the flu and the common cold, can also lead to bronchiolitis if they cause the bronchioles to swell and fill with mucus.
Bronchiolitis symptoms in infants may be difficult to identify. Symptoms include:
*Stuffy or runny nose
*Low-grade fever (often < 101.5 degrees F)
In some cases, these are the only symptoms a child may have of bronchiolitis. In other cases, symptoms get worse.
After this, there may be a week or more of difficulty breathing or a whistling noise when the child breathes out (wheezing).
Many infants will also have an ear infection (otitis media).
When to call a Doctor:
*Sluggishness or extreme inactivity
*Refusing to eat or drink
*Dehydration (not enough wet diapers, or having dark urine)
*Whistling noises on the exhale
*Seeing the ribcage go in when the baby breathes in
*Breathing very fast or shallow
*Working very hard to breathe
*Pauses in breathing
*Blue or purple lips or fingertips
*Hypothermia (a temperature that is lower than the normal 98 degrees F)
Bronchiolitis in toddlers and bronchiolitis in adults may cause many of the same symptoms, although sunken ribs during breathing and nasal flaring are most likely to occur only in the very young.
Bronchiolitis occurs when a virus infects the bronchioles, which are the smallest airways in your lungs. The infection makes the bronchioles swell and become inflamed. Mucus collects in these airways, which makes it difficult for air to flow freely in and out of the lungs.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common virus that infects just about every child by the age of 2. Outbreaks of the RSV infection occur every winter. Bronchiolitis can also be caused by other viruses, including those that cause the flu or the common cold. Infants can be reinfected with RSV because at least two strains exist.
The viruses that cause bronchiolitis are easily spread. You can contract them through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. You can also get them by touching shared objects — such as utensils, towels or toys — and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
*Age younger than 2 years (and younger than 3 months in particular)
*Another heart or lung problem
*A weak immune system
*Exposure to cigarette smoke
*Exposure to lots of other kids or people (in a daycare or crowded home)
*Having older siblings who attend school or daycare
Tests and X-rays are not usually needed to diagnose bronchiolitis. The doctor can usually identify the problem by observing your child and listening to his or her lungs with a stethoscope. However, it may take more than one or two visits to distinguish the condition from a cold or the flu.
If your child is at risk of severe bronchiolitis, if symptoms are worsening or if another problem is suspected, your doctor may order tests, including:
*Chest X-ray. Your doctor may request a chest X-ray to look for signs of pneumonia.
*Viral testing. Your doctor may collect a sample of mucus from your child to test for the virus causing bronchiolitis. This is done using a swab that’s gently inserted into the nose.
*Blood tests. Occasionally, blood tests might be used to check your child’s white blood cell count. An increase in white blood cells is usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection. A blood test can also determine whether the level of oxygen has decreased in your child’s bloodstream.
Your doctor may also ask you about signs of dehydration, especially if your child has been refusing to drink or eat or has been vomiting. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, dry mouth and skin, sluggishness, and little or no urination.
Bronchiolitis typically lasts for two to three weeks. The majority of children with bronchiolitis can be cared for at home with supportive care. It’s important to be alert for changes in breathing difficulty, such as struggling for each breath, being unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing, or making grunting noises with each breath.
When bronchiolitis becomes severe, conventional treatment may involve:
*Oxygen via a mask or machine
*A nebulizer, to deliver inhaled drugs that open up and reduce inflammation in the tiny airways of the lungs
*Intravenous (IV) fluids to help hydrate
*Suctioning mucus from the mouth or nose
*Monitoring breathing and heart rate with a machine
*Making sure your child’s temperature stays in a healthy range
Oxygen is considered the most effective treatment in young children. Because most bronchiolitis is the result of a virus, antibiotics are not usually prescribed. In some cases, certain drugs may be recommended by health care providers for treatment, including:
*Drugs to treat RSV infection, such as ribavirin or palivizumab
*Antibiotics (if the infection was indeed bacterial or if there is also an ear infection)
*Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
*Alpha or beta agonists to help relax and open the airways, such as albuterol or racemic epinephrine
*Fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on the child’s age. (If you are considering using medication to reduce your child’s fever at home, talk to a healthcare professional due to serious safety concerns.)
According to Ayurveda aggravated Vata (air) blocks the Kapha (water) in the respiratory channels, the movement of the air gets interrupted, and phlegm accumulates in the lung tissue. In order to expel this phlegm, there is a natural reaction of coughing, which results in Bronchitis. This can be attributed to many reasons like inhalation of smoke and dust, physical exertion, intake of foods and drinks that have a drying effect on the body, and the obstruction of the trachea by food particles. Another cause is suppressing the natural urges of the body, such as passing stool and urine, hunger, thirst, sleep, sneezing, breathing, yawning, tears, coughing, etc. All of these causes are investigated before beginning a personalized Bronchitis treatment regimen at Jiva.
Ayurveda calls this disease Kasroga and considers it to be caused by poor digestion. Poor diet, poor digestion and incomplete elimination of wastes lead to formation of ama (mucus) in the lungs. This creates a favorable ground for growth of infecting organisms in the bronchial area. Stress, poor lifestyle, bad circulation, and lack of rejuvenative measures can deteriorate the body’s immune response to invading organisms in the bronchial area.
The Ayurvedic treatment of Bronchitis is aimed at simultaneously correcting lung and stomach functions. Herbs are given to ease troubled breathing and expel phlegm. At the same time, Ayurvedic digestive formulas are prescribed to enhance the digestive fire in order to kill pathogens.
Because the viruses that cause bronchiolitis spread from person to person, one of the best ways to prevent it is to wash your hands frequently — especially before touching your baby when you have a cold or other respiratory illness. Wearing a face mask at this time is appropriate.
If your child has bronchiolitis, keep him or her at home until the illness is past to avoid spreading it to others.
Other commonsense ways to help curb infection include:
*Limit contact with people who have a fever or cold. If your child is a newborn, especially a premature newborn, avoid exposure to people with colds in the first two months of life.
*Clean and disinfect surfaces. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch, such as toys and doorknobs. This is especially important if a family member is sick.
*Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Then throw away the tissue and wash your hands or use alcohol hand sanitizer.
*Use your own drinking glass. Don’t share glasses with others, especially if someone in your family is ill.
*Wash hands often. Frequently wash your own hands and those of your child. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy for yourself and your child when you’re away from home.
*Breast-feed. Respiratory infections are significantly less common in breast-fed babies.
Vaccines and medications
There are no vaccines for the most common causes of bronchiolitis (RSV and rhinovirus). However, an annual flu shot is recommended for everyone older than 6 months.
Infants at high risk of the RSV infection, such as those born very prematurely or with a heart-lung condition or a depressed immune system, may be given the medication palivizumab (Synagis) to decrease the likelihood of RSV infections.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.