If your pediatrician suspects that your child has contracted bronchiolitis, you may want to get answers to the following questions:
1. What exactly is bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is a contagious viral infection that usually affects infants and children by causing inflammation of the bronchioles. The virus is known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or human pneumovirus.
2. What virus / bacteria has my baby been infected with?
Though bronchiolitis is most often caused by the RSV virus, it can also be brought in by any of the parainfluenza, coronavirus, metapneumovirus, adenovirus, and rhinovirus.
3. What is the worst case scenario I can expect for the baby?
If timely medical intervention is not given, a bronchiolitis patient may suffer respiratory failure, dehydration, high fever and severe fatigue. Such cases require admission in to hospital for close monitoring, intubation, nebulization, intra-venous fluids, etc., to avoid it becoming fatal.
4. What tests will the baby have to go through?
Bronchiolitis is successfully diagnosed by running a combination of tests to get conclusive results.
• The most useful is of course, a chest x-ray to eliminate the presence of pneumonia or lodged foreign object inhaled by the patient.
• The next step in the diagnostic approach is to use a stethoscope to check for wheezing and labored breathing.
• A nasopharyngeal mucous swab is also taken to check for virus type.
• Blood tests are also ordered to check both white blood cell count as well as blood oxygen levels.
• Visible signs of dehydration are often taken into account especially if the child has lost appetite such as fatigue, dry mouth, wrinkled skin, etc.
5. What will be the medications will my baby have to take?
Since bronchiolitis is a viral infection, antibiotic usage is ruled out unless the bronchiolitis has led to the development of secondary infectious conditions such as pneumonia, middle ear bacterial infection, etc., where antibiotics need to be prescribed to treat the secondary condition.