Bronchiolitis refers to blockage of the small airways in the lungs because of a viral infection. Bronchiolitis is usually seen among children who are younger than two years old. It is usually a result of respiratory syncytial virus infection (72 percent of cases), while the remainder can be attributed to human rhinovirus infection. The diagnosis of bronchiolitis can be made based on the symptoms of the patient. Tests like viral testing and chest X-ray are not generally needed. If required, chest X-ray may be beneficial to rule out bacterial pneumonia.
While there is no specific treatment, supportive care is usually sufficient. This may include intravenous fluids, feeding, oxygen, and possibly nebulized hypertonic saline. The use of nebulized epinephrine, antibiotics, antivirals, and bronchodilators is still unclear if it is helpful. About 10 to 30 percent of children younger than 2 years old are affected by bronchiolitis at some point in life. It is most commonly seen in the Northern hemisphere during winter. The risk of fatality has been estimated to be about 1 percent.
The risk of bronchiolitis can be reduced by decreasing the spread of viruses through respiratory infections through handwashing and avoiding exposure to those who are symptomatic. Infants who are breast fed have better immune systems. For some premature infants, vaccinations may be available to help prevent bronchiolitis. The treatment is based on supportive management of the symptoms. Some treatment that has been found to be of some benefit include nebulized hypertonic saline, and possible nebulized epinephrine or nasal suctioning.
Bronchiolitis Symptom #1: Fever
Fever or pyrexia refers to temperature that is above the normal range of body temperature. Fever results in an increase in the set point of body temperature, where the feeling of coldness triggers contractions as an effort to produce and conserve more heat.
A fever among young children can trigger a febrile seizure. Fever can be seen in various conditions such as parasitic, bacterial, or viral infections, meningitis, malaria, appendicitis, deep vein thrombosis, and vasculitis. Treatment usually includes the use of medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).