Common childhood illnesses: Bronchitis, Bronchiolitis and Pneumonia


A very common childhood infection that originates in the lung is known as bronchitis. Out of the different tubes in the lung, the largest are known as bronchi.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a type of viral infection which causes inflammation in the bronchi, making it difficult to breathe. It also increases the production of mucus, which makes the condition worse. It can also be caused due to certain bacterial infections.

Common symptoms

A child with bronchitis may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  1. Runny nose and sore throat
  2. Coughing – it will be dry initially and later turn moist
  3. Pain in the upper chest or throat area due to coughing
  4. Mild fever
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Wheezing sound

What to do?

Children usually get better within 5 to 10 days, but it is important to consult your child’s doctor. Here are some things that can help.

  1. Giving a steam therapy at home can help improve breathing.
  2. Do not give any cold or cough medication without first consulting the doctor.
  3. If your child is not eating properly, make sure to include warm fluids in the meals.
  4. Remove any traces of smoke, including cigarette, agarbatti and cooking smoke.

What is bronchiolitis?

While bronchiolitis is also similar to bronchitis, the infection moves from the bronchi to the bronchioles (the smaller air tubes present in the lung). This is also a condition in which there is inflammation. In addition, there is also additional mucus as well as white blood cells that can block the air passage.

The RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) virus is the most common cause of bronchiolitis.

How does it spread?

This infection is most common between the ages of 2 months and 2 years and spreads through physical contact.

Common symptoms

A child with bronchiolitis may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  1. Cold
  2. Mild fever
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Wheezing
  5. Rib area going inwards while breathing
  6. Rapid breathing

What to do?

Doctors mainly suggest and a larger intake of fluids to treat the condition without medicines. In severe cases, doctors may refer hospitalization with extra oxygen for breathing.

What is pneumonia?

In case of pneumonia, the infection now moves to the substance of the lungs. It is caused mainly by bacteria instead of virus and hence is more serious.

Common symptoms

A child with pneumonia may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  1. High fever
  2. Fast breathing
  3. Frequent coughing

Make sure to consult your child’s doctor in case of any of the above health conditions.


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