As a mother of three, I’ve unfortunately dealt with my fair share of respiratory infections, ear infections, coughs, infections, rashes, itches, and bumps amongst my children. I know that I wished I had a “quick guide” to help me through those tough times.
To be as helpful as possible to you and my nanny agency clients, I’ve compiled exactly that – a “quick guide” to bronchitis and I’ve also included links to a few eBook downloads that you might find useful as you seek to solve your baby’s infections, rashes, deal with immunizations, and handle other challenges you might be facing with your little one.
So let’s start out with the basics:
It is vitally important to call the doctor at the first sign of a child having bronchitis. The doctor will determine the proper treatment so the child will not develop pneumonia, damage to his/her respiratory system, or a more severe infection.
What is bronchitis?
- An infection in the upper respiratory system that is usually caused by RSV or influenza (here is a quick guide to RSV)
- Bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tubes in the lungs become swollen and inflamed. As they swell, the airways fill with mucus and make it difficult to breathe
- It is a less severe form of pneumonia but may develop into pneumonia if not treated
- Typically occurs in winter and early spring
- There are two types of bronchitis:
- Acute Bronchitis:
- Very common illness that may occur several times per year
- Usually only lasts a few days
- Typically develops as a result of a cold from a bacterial or virus infection
- Chronic Bronchitis:
- Typically develops from allergies or exposure to smoke or environmental irritants
- Can last for months
What ages of children are usually affected by bronchitis?
- Can affect all ages of children
- Typically affects children under the age of 2 years old with the highest risk being between 3 and 6 months of age
- More serious in an infant or young child due to the immaturity of his/her immune system, respiratory system and narrow bronchial airways.
- More common in boys than in girls
Is bronchitis contagious and how is it spread?
- Bronchitis is contagious
- It can be spread on any object or surface that has been touched by an infected person
- Can be spread through hand-to-hand contact
- Can also be spread through coughing and/or sneezing
- Tends to spread in areas with more children present (like daycares)
How can bronchitis be prevented?
- Practice good hand washing habits
- Keep the child away from other people, family members or children that have colds or are sneezing and/or coughing
- Keep the child from being exposed to smoke, smog or other fumes
- Clean the child’s toys and pacifiers regularly with disinfection safe for a child.
- If the child is very young, try to keep the child away from large groups of people or public settings.
- If the child is older, teach him/her to not share cups, silverware, etc. as a cold is very easily passed this way.
- Limit the use of cleaning chemicals around the child that could create irritating fumes
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
- Usually starts with a cold symptoms that last for 1 – 2 days, followed by:
- Excessive, persistent coughing
- Mucus coming up with the coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing or squeaky noises when breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and/or restlessness
- Vomiting may occur after a coughing attack
How can bronchitis be treated?
- If the pneumonia is caused by a virus, it will not respond to antibiotics.
- If the pneumonia is a result of an infection, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat:
- The child needs to take the entire dose of antibiotics exactly as directed by the doctor
- Make sure to take the child back for his/her check-up to ensure that the infection has cleared up.
- Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a medicine to help open the child’s airways
- Make sure the child gets plenty of rest
- Keep the child hydrated with fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration
- Position the child in an upright position to help with the breathing
- Use a humidifier in the child’s room to keep the air moist and to loosen up the mucus
- Try to keep the child calm through holding, rocking and comforting to reduce the coughing
- Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen can be given to help with fever and general discomfort
- A nasal wash with a saline solution (can be purchased over-the-counter) can help with the congestion in the nose. The nasal wash can also be made at home by mixing:
- 2 cups warm water
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
How long does bronchitis last?
- Usually bronchitis will go away within 10 – 12 days (after getting appropriate treatment), but cough may last for several weeks.
Call the doctor if:
- Call the doctor at the first sign of a child having bronchitis or if the child is having a hard time breathing
- Rapid or shallow breathing occurs
- There is severe wheezing
- Blue color to the fingernails and lips
- The cough is getting worse instead of better
Here is the e-Book about pediatric medications I put together that might help you as you seek out help for your child’s bronchitis. It covers all sorts of stuff that you can use to help your child with her symptoms.
You might also find these other two eBooks helpful!
How to Handle a Baby’s Cough
How to Help a Crying Baby
Diaper Bag Must-Haves
How to Handle Baby Diarrhea
- Acute Bronchitis: