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Bronchiolitis
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Bronchiolitis

From MayoClinic.com

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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CHILDREN'S HEALTH

Infants

ASTHMA & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Respiratory System

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor will likely listen to your child's lungs with a stethoscope to check for wheezing, prolonged breathing out (exhaling) or a fine crackling sound. Such noises may indicate obstructed airflow in the bronchioles. Sometimes, your doctor may request that a chest X-ray be taken to visually check for inflammation of the airways in the lungs and any signs of pneumonia.

In addition, your doctor may collect a sample of mucus from your child — using a nasal pharyngeal swab or a suction catheter that's gently inserted into the nose — to test for the microorganism that may be causing the bronchiolitis.

Blood tests might be used to check your child's white blood cell count. An increase in white blood cells is usually a sign that your body is fighting an infection. A blood test can also determine whether the level of oxygen has decreased in your child's bloodstream. Oxygen is necessary to the functioning of the body's organs, including the brain.

Your doctor may also ask you about signs of dehydration, especially if your child has been refusing to drink or eat or has been vomiting. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, dry mouth and skin, sluggishness, and little or no urinary output.

Complications

Complications of severe bronchiolitis may include:

  • Increasingly labored breathing

  • Cyanosis, a condition in which your child's skin appears blue or ashen, especially around the lips, caused by lack of oxygen

  • Dehydration

  • Fatigue

If these occur, your child may need hospitalization.

If your infant was born prematurely, has a heart or lung condition, or has a compromised immune system, watch closely for beginning signs of bronchiolitis. The infection may rapidly become severe — possibly life-threatening — and signs and symptoms of the underlying condition may become worse. In such cases, your child will usually need hospitalization to monitor his or her health and provide any necessary care.

Infrequently, bronchiolitis is accompanied by another lung infection such as bacterial pneumonia, which is treated separately. Reinfections with RSV after the initial episode may occur but typically aren't as severe. Repeated episodes of bronchiolitis may precede the development of asthma later in life, but the relationship between the two conditions is unclear.

Bronchiolitis > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 >

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