How to prevent bronchiolitis in babies
With the arrival of the cold the epidemic of bronchiolitis also arrives, especially in babies under 2 years old. The National Health System (NHS) estimates that annually in Spain one in 25 babies under one year old enter in the Hospital due this infection. We tell you how to prevent bronchiolitis in babies, their main symptoms and some care that may be helpful.
Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that inflames and clogs the bronchial tubes causing difficulty breathing. This disease usually affects children under 2 years, especially babies between 2 and 6 months of age. The most common cause is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), although it may also be due to influenza virus, parainfluenza or adenovirus. It usually appears in the cold months, from November to March.
Babies with less than 3 months old, premature babies and babies with heart or lung problems and immunological deficiencies have greater risk for having severe bronchiolitis. It is important to know how to prevent bronchiolitis in babies to avoid important complications.
Symptoms of bronchiolitis in babies
Symptoms of bronchiolitis may vary from one baby to another. According to the Spanish Society of Emergency of Pediatrics (SEUP) it is common that bronchiolitis in babies begin with cough and nasal mucus and respiratory difficulties start after 3 or 4 days.
You have to go to the pediatrician as soon as possible if you notice the following symptoms:
- Difficulties in breathing: the baby breathes faster, ribs are marked, the abdomen is moved, the chest is sunken or the baby stops to breath for seconds.
- The baby does noises like "whistles" in the chest.
- The baby is tired when he/she eats or the baby does not want to eat.
- The baby has bluish the nails, the skin or lips.
- The baby vomits everything that he/she eats.
- The baby has high fever.
- The baby is bad: sleepy, irritable…
Bronchiolitis in babies can last from 7 to 10 days. You can observe the gradual and slowly improvement, and some symptoms, such as the cough, can last up to 4 weeks.
Treatment of bronchiolitis in babies
Nowadays there is no effective medicine to combat the bronchiolitis and antibiotics do not work because this disease is caused by a virus. Most of the cases present mild symptoms that can be alleviated with some measures or general care that you can do at home, such us the following:
- In case the baby has fever you can give him/her an antipyretic such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen (only when the baby is more than 3 months old).
- It is important to maintain a good hydration, offering water or milk frequently and in small quantities.
- You should do nasal washes with saline solution and aspirate secretions to the baby, this can help the baby to keep the nose clean.
- You should raise the headboard of the cot and put the baby face up so that he/she can breathe better.
- You should fractionate the food, you can administer a smaller amount of food but more frequently.
- You should avoid environments with smoke.
- You should not administer cough syrups, mucolytics or nasal decongestants because it can be harmful to the baby.
As Dr. Sergio Negre, pediatrician in the Quiron Hospital of Valencia, says, it is very important to control the baby's evolution to avoid complications.
How to prevent bronchiolitis in babies
The spread of bronchiolitis occurs through the mucus or saliva from an infected person. It is important to know how to prevent bronchiolitis in babies, some tips to keep in mind:
- You should wash your hands after and before to touch the baby or his/her things.
- You should avoid that your baby is in touch with older children who have symptoms of cold in times of bronchiolitis..
- You should avoid to exposure the baby to tobacco smoke and charged environments.
- The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) recommends breastfeeding because these babies tend to have milder bronchiolitis.