In simple words, bronchiolitis is a condition wherein the bronchioles become inflamed. This lower respiratory contagion mostly occurs in infants aged between one and 12 months. This infectious condition is basically a common inflammation of the small bronchi as well as bronchioles - the little air passages to the lungs.
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When these airways are infected, they become distended and produce mucus. In addition, the infection may also cause the airways to the lungs to spasm as well as contract in the similar way as they do in the case of asthma. Bronchiolitis often occurs together with pneumonia and ear infection. More than 50 per cent of the incidents of bronchiolitis are attributed to a virus called the respiratory syncitial virus (RSV). Most incidents of bronchiolitis occur during the winter as well as in the early part of spring.
Usually, bronchiolitis develops following one or two days of cold symptoms, starting with a ruthless cough, fever, gasping, and problems in breathing in addition to difficulty in consuming food. Breathing problems commences about two to three days of cough and gradually, the ailment may deteriorate.
Generally, this is one of the most difficult times for any infant. He or she may experience augmented breathing problems, exhaustion owing to failure to have sleep, added anxiety, and problems in drinking or eating. Many children who develop bronchiolitis need to be admitted to hospitals with a view to help them get all the necessary support and supervision from the competent healthcare providers during this period.
When any child develops bronchiolitis, he/ she is faced with the risk of the mucus plugging the airways to the lungs resulting in insufficient supplies of oxygen to the lungs and making him/ her feel exhausted. All these combined together, may result in a respiratory failure. In addition, even several months after a child is cured of bronchiolitis, he/ she may experience wheezing whenever they may catch cold.
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The infections that are responsible for development of bronchiolitis are basically communicable. In fact, the germs that cause this condition have the ability to spread in the form of minute drops of fluid from the nose and mouth of an infected individual, becoming airborne through coughs, sneezes, laughs. In addition, these contagious tiny drops of fluid may also settle on things used or touched by the infant, such as toys, tissues and so on.
It may be noted here that babies in child-care centers are faced with increased risks of contacting a virus that may eventually result in bronchiolitis since these infants are in intimate contact with several other young children.
The incubation period (the time taken between contacting the infection to the appearance of the symptoms of the ailment) of the respiratory syncitial virus (RSV), which is responsible for the development of bronchiolitis, may vary from a number of days to even a week, conditional on the contagion resulting in bronchiolitis.
Usually, incidents of bronchiolitis continue for approximately 12 days, but children suffering from acute cases may keep coughing for several weeks. Generally, this ailment reaches its peak on the second or third day after the child begins to cough and experiences problems in breathing. After this, the ailment resolves gradually.
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Since bronchiolitis transmits from one individual to another, the most effective way to thwart the infection from spreading is by using appropriate methods to wash the hands. There are several other ways by which you may prevent the virus responsible for bronchiolitis or the infection from spreading and some of them are discussed below.
First and foremost, restrict the contact of your child with people enduring cold, cough and fever. In case you baby has born prematurely, avoid exposing him/ her to people who have been infected with any virus for the initial two months of their life.
Moreover, you need to clean your bathroom and kitchen counter tops in your home with bleach and water to ensure that no virus can colonize at these places. Ensure that the humidifier is always clean as this will help to prevent the growth of bacteria as well as molds. Also make use of tissues to remove the nasal secretions as well as immediately dispose of the used tissues in an appropriate manner. Don't forget to wash your hands using soap and water or with hand sanitizers containing alcohol.
Always bear in mind that you should never share your drinking glasses with anyone else. Also take a healthy and well-balanced diet. Also enhance the ingestion of fluids, such as water, fruit juice and gelatin water with a view to avoid dehydration.
At the same time, ensure that the environment around you is kept clean as much as possible. Also maintain an environment that is smoke-free, since smoke may deteriorate the symptoms of this respiratory infection.
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Several herbs and supplements are effective in preventing as well as treating bronchiolitis. For instance, prepare a tea mixing equivalent amounts of slippery elm bark, marshmallow root, thyme and licorice. They may be taken in the amounts of either one teaspoonful or dropper of tincture or one capsule of powdered herb. This herbal tea soothes the lungs and you may give one dose of it to your child thrice every day.
Note: You should never give licorice to any child enduring high blood pressure (hypertension).
Alternately you may also combine five drops of eucalyptus oil or thyme oil in one cup (250 ml) of either almond oil or olive oil. Gently rub the combined oils on the length of the spine of your child, especially in the upper back region over the lungs. Doing this will facilitate in providing relaxation to your child as well as enhance circulation to the lungs.
After the infection is cured, using astragalus (botanical name, Astragalus membranaceous) may be extremely helpful. This herb possesses high amounts of micronutrients and trace minerals that facilitate in fortifying the immune system. Give this herbal medication to your child in one-half dosages thrice daily for two consecutive weeks.
Note: It is advisable that you should not give astragalus to your ailing child till you are sure that the severe infection, for instance, fever, endured by him/ her has been completely cured.
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Similar to astragalus, American ginseng is another wonderful natural source of trace minerals as well as micronutrients, which may facilitate the recovery of your ailing child. In addition, this herb also assists in fortifying the immune system. When the infection has been completely cured, you may give your child half of the recommended dose of American ginseng thrice every day for two consecutive weeks.
Note: It is advisable that you should not give American ginseng to your child till you are sure that fever as well as other symptoms of the active contagion have been completely resolved.
Besides using conventional medications and using herbs and supplements, you may also do several other things to help speed up the recovery of your child, who is suffering from bronchiolitis. For instance, you may sit holding your baby in a room for approximately 10 minutes while his/ her coughing is alleviated. In fact, you should hold your child in a straight position as it will make breathing further easy for him/ her. In order to moisten or humidify the room of your child, you may operate a hot shower in the bathroom and allow the steam to go up the room.
In addition, you may add watercress and garlic to the dishes as well as into thick vegetable soup. Preferably, you should also use oregano and marjoram to the dishes you cook. As mentioned earlier, you may also rub tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil gently on the child's chest, as it will promote circulation to the lungs. Moreover, you may employ chamomile and lavender essences in the form of a vaporizer. Give your ailing child freshly compressed lemon juice that is diluted with hot water and made sweeter using honey.
It is important to keep children suffering from bronchiolitis warm and always provide them with a properly balanced and nourished diet together with lots of fluids to drink. For most children enduring bronchiolitis, the most excellent treatment is giving them sufficient fluids to drink as well as time to recuperate.
In fact, ensuring that your child is actually drinking plenty of fluids may be a difficult job, since infants suffering from bronchiolitis usually do not have the desire to drink anything. Therefore, they ought to be provided with small amounts of fluids every time and at lesser intervals compared to the normal conditions.
It may be noted that the air inside a room, particularly during the winter months, may dehydrate the air passages to the lungs and turn the mucus to be additionally sticky. In such conditions, a number of parents actually use a humidifier or mist vaporizer in their child's room with a view to facilitate loosening up of the mucus in the air passages and provide the affected child with relief from congestion and cough.
In case you too are using one of these, ensure that you clean it every day using household bleach with a view to avoid the building up of mold within it. Also keep away from steam and hot-water humidifiers, as these may prove to be risky and also result in scalding.
You may try using a bulb syringe or saltwater nose drops to clear the nasal congestion of your ailing child. Doing this is particularly useful just prior to feeding or putting the child to sleep. At times, when you hold the child in an upright position, it helps to ease the strenuous breathing. If your child is enduring fever, you may give him/ her Acetaminophen, as this will make them feel more relaxed. Ensure that you always follow proper dosing as well as interval while using this medication, which needs to be given according to the weight of your child.