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What are the Different Types of Bronchiolitis Treatment?

By Alex Paul
Updated May 17, 2024
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The different types of bronchiolitis treatment all have the same goal, which is to monitor the child and prevent dehydration. Bronchiolitis cannot be cured with drugs, but it is a self-limiting condition which means that it nearly always clears up naturally. Home treatment, including drinking plenty of fluids, is often enough, although the child should be taken out of daycare or school. In some cases, hospital care and monitoring is required, especially if the child has difficulty eating or drinking.

Bronchiolitis is a lung infection that affects the small vessels known as bronchioles. It is a common infection, especially among children and babies, and usually can be treated at home. In severe cases, however, hospital treatment may be required. Bronchiolitis treatment doesn’t involve trying to kill the virus because there is no medicine capable of doing so. Instead, treatment aims to prevent dehydration and assist with breathing.

If symptoms of bronchiolitis are not severe, treatment can often be performed at home by the parent. Home bronchiolitis treatment involves providing the child with fluids to prevent dehydration and sometimes giving over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. Painkillers can help reduce the fever symptoms that often accompany the infection. It’s important, however, to consult the child’s doctor before giving any sort of medication. A doctor may also want to check how well the child is breathing.

During bronchiolitis treatment, the parent should usually stop taking the child to school or daycare. Continuous monitoring of symptoms is important; if the child’s condition deteriorates, emergency assistance may be needed. Once the child starts to eat and breathe normally, it is usually safe for it return to normal activities.

Sometimes home bronchiolitis treatment is not enough and hospital care is required. Signs that a child may need to be treated in the hospital include problems with breathing and a decreased appetite. If the child refuses to drink, this can also indicate that professional care is needed. Treatment in the hospital usually involves monitoring the child’s vital statistics such as his or her oxygen level. A feeding tube is sometimes used if the child cannot eat or drink.

Most drugs that have been clinically trialed as bronchiolitis treatments have failed to make a noticeable difference in recovery time. Most children recover from the infection relatively quickly, with the average stay in hospital around three days. Some hospitals may provide a treatment known as nebulized saline solution, which is essentially liquid with a high concentration of salt turned into steam.

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