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Bronchiolitis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Bronchiolitis is a viral infection of the bronchioles (small airways) in your child's lungs. These small airways become inflamed and filled with fluid and mucus. The muscles around the airways tighten, making them smaller. This makes it hard for your child to breathe.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

RISKS:

  • Your child may have difficulty eating because of congestion and breathing problems. Your child may get dehydrated. Breathing problems could cause a decrease in oxygen inside his body. When your child's body does not get enough oxygen, his kidneys, heart, and brain can be damaged. Your child may have an ear infection or other problems when he is sick. Medicines to treat bronchiolitis may cause an allergic reaction. This could cause your child to have skin rashes or trouble breathing. Even with treatment, if your child has heart or other lung problems, he can have a life-threatening illness.

  • If your child's bronchiolitis is left untreated, his condition may get worse. Your child may lose weight or not gain weight as he should. Dehydration can lead to problems with his organs, such as his heart, brain, or kidneys. He may have further breathing problems, leading to decreased oxygen levels and damage to organs such as the kidneys, heart, and brain. He may get very tired from working hard to breathe and completely stop breathing. If your child does not get or does not respond to treatment and his condition worsens, he may die. The risks of serious illness or death are small if you follow your child's caregiver's advice.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Isolation:

Your child may be in isolation if he has an infection or disease that he can spread to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands before and after visiting your child.

Nutrition:

Your child may need to stop eating by mouth for a period of time. This is needed when he has a hard time breathing. A tube may be put in your child's mouth or nose and into his stomach. This may be used to feed him while he is sick. This may be done only if your child does not have too much trouble breathing. As your child improves and gets better, he may be able to eat normally.

Monitoring:

Your child may need any of the following:

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotic medicine helps fight and kill bacteria. This medicine is used only if your child has a bacterial infection.

  • Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators open the air passages in your child's lungs. These medicines may be given to your child in a form that he can breathe in. A nebulizer treatment mixes bronchodilator medicine with air or oxygen. Breathing treatment makes a mist for your child to breathe into his lungs. Breathing treatments are usually given through a mouthpiece or mask attached to a nebulizer (breathing treatment machine).

  • Fever medicine: This type of medicine is given to help lower your child's body temperature. Lowering your child's body temperature may help him feel better.

  • Steroids: Steroid medicine may help decrease swelling in your child's airways. This medicine may be given if your child's wheezing keeps coming back. It may also be given for bronchiolitis with asthma.

Tests:

  • Blood gases: These tests are also called arterial blood gases (ABGs). Blood is taken from an artery usually in your child's wrist. ABGs may be done if your child has trouble breathing or other problems caused by his illness.

  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your child's lungs and heart. A chest x-ray may be used to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest wall. It can help caregivers diagnose your child's symptoms, or suggest or monitor treatment for medical conditions.

  • Nasal wash: A nasal wash is a test to find out what is causing your child's illness. A sample of mucus from your child's nose may be taken with a suction (vacuum) tube. This sample will be put into a bottle and sent to the lab for tests.

  • Culture: Your child may have his nose or throat swabbed with a cotton tip applicator. This will be sent to the lab for tests to learn what may be causing your child's condition. It can also tell what medicines are best to treat the illness.

Treatment options:

  • Mucus removal: This is a small tube that is placed in your child's mouth or nose. This tube sucks out the mucus in your child's mouth and nose to help him breathe easier. Saline drops may be put into your child's nose to loosen up some of the mucus. Your child may need to be suctioned more than once.

  • Your child may need extra oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • ET tube: Your child may need an endotracheal (ET) tube to help him breathe. An ET tube is put in your child's mouth or nose, and goes into the trachea (windpipe). It may be connected to a breathing machine called a ventilator. The ET tube will be taken out when your child is breathing better.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Bronchiolitis (Inpatient Care)

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