Home remedies for Bronchitis in toddlers

We all are familiar with bronchitis. Bronchitis is an infection in the respiratory tract and when it happens to an infant or a toddler, it is known as bronchiolitis. It affects the smallest air passages in the lungs called the bronchioles. Bronchioles which control airflow in your lungs will cause problem if they don’t work as they should. In case of infection, there is swelling of the bronchioles blocking the flow of oxygen.

The Types of Bronchiolitis?

Basically there are two types of bronchiolitis: viral and obliterans.

Viral bronchiolitis appears in infants and they are caused due to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). These viral outbreaks generally occur every winter and tend to affect most of the children aged under 1 year old.

On the other hand, bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare and dangerous condition and it is seen in adults. This condition scars the bronchioles which in turn blocks the air passages and creates an airway obstruction which is irreversible.

The Symptoms of Bronchiolitis?

Both types of bronchiolitis obliterans have similar signs and symptoms which include:

  • Breathing shortness
  • Wheezing
  • bluish skin due to the lack of oxygen
  • weird sounds of crackles heard in the lungs
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Appearance of sunken ribs while breathing
  • nasal flaring
  • quick breathing
  • whooping cough

These symptoms can occur two weeks to a little over a month in case of obliterans and a fewer days in case of viral bronchiolitis.

The Causes of Bronchiolitis?

There are several causes of bronchiolitis. Viruses entering and infecting the respiratory tract cause viral bronchiolitis. Viruses can reproduce rapidly and make alterations in the immune system. Some most common types of viral infections that might cause bronchiolitis are listed below:

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

It is one of the most common causes of bronchiolitis. It usually occurs in babies aged less than 1 year. It is contagious and dangerous viral infection which produces inflammation, swelling, and mucus in the airways.


They are the viruses that target mucous membranes and it can cause about one-tenth of acute respiratory tract infections occurring in children.

Influenza Viruses

These are well-known viruses which cause inflammation in the lungs, throat, and nose. Babies will weak immune system are at a risk of influenza virus and hence in risk of bronchiolitis.

These are some things that makes your baby vulnerable to the disease:

  • baby not being breast-fed
  • prematurely born baby or baby born with a heart or lung condition
  • baby with depressed immune system
  • baby being exposed to cigarette smoke
  • baby being exposed in crowded places with the virus present in the environment.

Diagnosis of bronchiolitis?

There are different ways of diagnosing bronchiolitis. Imaging testing, chest X-rays, generally helps diagnose bronchiolitis in children. Blood gas tests to measure how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in your blood will be done.

Your child’s symptoms will be asked and other questions relating their help for in-depth understanding of the patient.

In basic procedures, they’ll listen to your child’s breathing through a stethoscope and check if there is any crackling or high-pitched wheezing noise as your child breathes in and out.

The signs of dehydration might also be taken in note.

If there is problem breathing or eating, patient will be admitted to the hospital for quick recovery.

Further tests

Bronchiolitis doesn’t really require any further tests usually necessary. Other tests in case nothing can be figured out are:

  • Mucus test 

    Mucus discharged from your child’s nose will be taken to lab to identify the virus causing their bronchiolitis.

  • Blood and urine test

  • Oximeter 

    It is a small test done by an electronic device which is clipped to your child’s finger or toe and which measures the oxygen in their blood

Samples of mucus or nasal discharge can help your doctor diagnose the type of virus causing the infection. This method for testing purposes is common with babies and small children.

How Is Bronchiolitis Treated?

Viral bronchiolitis, generally clears up in no time without any treatment at all. But, because this condition often affects infants, hospitalization might just be necessary for more severe cases. Any needed oxygen is provided by the hospital and intravenous fluid treatments too. Antibiotic medications are generally ineffective against viruses, while some medications will help in opening your baby’s airways.

Home Remedies for bronchitis in toddlers

Lifestyle and home remedies

These remedies will surely ease your child’s misery but does not guarantee the duration of the disease.

    • Humidifying the air. You should try vaporizer or humidifiers to moisten the air and ease coughing if the air in your child’s room is dry. Make e sure that the humidifier is clean to prevent growth of molds and bacteria. You can also run a hot shower in bathroom and let your room steam up. It is quite a good alternative. Sitting in the room with your child for should make it easier for your baby to cough.
    • Keeping your kid upright. You must keep your child’s body upright as this usually makes breathing easier.
    • Keep your children hydrated.  Give your child with plenty of clear fluids for drinking, such as juice or water. Due to congestion, your child might have difficulty in drinking and hence they will drink slowly than usual.
    • Use saline nose drops for easing congestion. You can always purchase these nasal drops that are effective, nonirritating as well as safe even for children. To use them, instill several drops into one nostril, then immediately bulb suction that nostril (but don’t push the bulb too far in). Do it in the other nostril too. Teach your child how to blow his or her nose (if old enough).
  • Don’t use unless there is too much pain. You can use pain relievers such as acetaminophen for your child to help in relieving a sore throat so that your child can fluids with less problems. Warning: Do not give pain relievers to children aged less than 2. Never give aspirin to children.
  • Smoke-free environment needs to be maintained.  Respiratory infections will be induced if there is smoke in the environment around your child. In case of a smoker in the family, the smoker must compromise and smoke elsewhere than the child’s room or anywhere near the child.


You must keep your child as hygienic as possible because the viruses which cause bronchiolitis spread fast and one of the best ways to prevent it is to become clean.

You yourself must be clean too especially before touching your baby when you are diagnosed with a cold or any other respiratory related illness. You can also wear a face mask if possible

Keeping your child who has been diagnosed with bronchiolitis is a wise thing to do as it helps to avoid spreading the disease to others.

Other common ways for preventing the disease:

  • Less contact with people with a fever or cold. Children, especially a newborn, should avoid exposure to many people as they might catch a cold or a fever and may induce bronchiolitis.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces. I have mentioned this before and I will mention it again that cleanliness is a must around children. This is because they are highly vulnerable to germs. Cleaning and disinfecting objects which people frequently touch, is mandatory. Cleanliness must be kept very carefully if any other family member is ill.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs. You must cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. Then you must throw away the tissue to avoid any contamination and wash your hands before you go near your child.
  • Use your own personal utensils. Don’t share utensils with others, and have your own plates and glasses especially so if any of the family members are ill.
  • Breast-feed. Babies who have been breast fed in their infancy have reportedly gone through much less health problem that those who were not breastfed. Respiratory infections, especially are much less common in breast-fed babies. So, if you want your child healthy, you might want to breastfeed your child if you want him/her to be healthier.

Vaccines and medications

There are no specific vaccines for bronchiolitis (RSV and rhinovirus). However, you can get your child an annual flu shot if he/she is older than 6 months.

Calling a doctor?

As we are talking about babies here, calling a doctor might be a routine thing to do because babies are vulnerable to the simplest of things and you might not want to take a chance. If you sense anything abnormal with your child, call a doctor ASAP and ask for help or suggestions.

Can it lead to death?

No, if you don’t neglect the condition your child is having (which you probably won’t). But if you let the infection spread and let it get worse into a serious pneumonia or any other respiratory condition of some kind, Yes. This can really lead to death but let’s not think about that when we have so many ways to cure it.

So, here we went through the guide to what really is bronchitis in babies or bronchiolitis and we also found out how it can be prevented, how it can be cured at home and what actions must be taken in case of any emergency.


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