Bronchitis in Small Children

Bronchitis is an infection or inflammation of the large air passages to the lungs. There are some conditions related to respiratory system that make parents confused with this condition such as cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis. This article will introduce you some information to explain more detail about bronchitis. The most common types of bronchitis are acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis means it comes on suddenly and lasts days or several weeks. It starts with cold symptoms including congestion, a runny nose, a sore throat, and low energy levels.

However, different from a cold that only affects the nose and throat, bronchitis leads to swelling of the linings of the large pipes that lead to the lungs. It will cause a dry, hacking cough that sometimes increases into a mucus-filled cough with yellowish gray or green mucus.

With acute bronchitis, the child may experience a low fever (99-100 degrees F) with some vomiting or gagging caused by the coughing. The child may wheeze and this often is identified as “asthmatic bronchitis” and can occur even if the child does not have asthma.

Since acute bronchitis often is the result of the same viruses that trigger the common cold, it can be as contagious as a cold. In young children, a virus is the most common cause of bronchitis while for children six years and older, bacteria are more likely to be the cause.

Acute bronchitis is commonly diagnosed by talking about the child’s symptoms and having a physical exam. Sometimes, the caregivers may carry out a chest x-ray, blood tests, or “pulse oximetry,” a simple test that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood or a sputum (mucus in the throat) exam to eliminate other diseases such as asthma or pneumonia.

Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis that lasts three months or more, and with symptoms that come back year after year, is called “chronic bronchitis.” Children who are exposed to cigarettes smoke or other pollutants in the air are more likely to acquire acute or chronic bronchitis. In some cases, a child without treatment asthma will have a chronic cough and mistakenly be diagnosed as having chronic bronchitis.

Additionally, sinus infections also can be confused with bronchitis. Sinus infections often cause a thick postnasal discharge; this can cause a chronic cough as the child attempts to clean up the throat of mucus draining from the sinuses.

Factors Increase the Risks of Bronchitis in Children 

  • Infection: Acute bronchitis is most often a result of a type of germ called a virus. It may also be triggered by other germs, such as bacteria, yeast, or a fungus.
  • Polluted air: Acute bronchitis can be caused when your child breathes air which includes chemical fumes, dust, or pollution.
  • Cigarette smoke: If you smoke around your child, he may be at higher risk for acute bronchitis.
  • Medical problems: Your child may be more likely to get bronchitis if he has other medical problems. Examples include asthma, frequent swollen tonsils, allergies, or heart problems.
  • Premature birth: Babies who are born too early may be at higher risk for bronchitis. 

Take Care Children WhenThey Have Acute Bronchitis 

  • Avoid smoke: Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around your child.
  • Drink more liquids: Most people should consume at least 8 eight-ounce cups of water a day. Your child may need to drink more liquids when he has acute bronchitis. Liquids help to keep the air passages moist and better able to cough up mucus.
  • Use a humidifier: Use a cool mist humidifier to enhance air moisture in your home. This might make it easier for your child to breathe and help reduce his cough.


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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