Parents are recommended to educate themselves now as the bronchiolitis season starts because bronchiolitis is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children under 1 year old
Experts are warning parents of young babies to find out more about bronchiolitis this week as new research reveals that they are confusing the symptoms of bronchiolitis in their babies with the common cold and are unaware of how to spot the warning signs quickly.
The survey of 1,973 parents aged 18-40 years old with a child under five which was commissioned by Abbott, a global healthcare company, explored parents' knowledge of the condition. It revealed that only one in ten parents associate the characteristic symptoms of severe bronchiolitis - namely the rasping cough, faster breathing, loss of appetite and high temperature - with the condition. Many parents continue to confuse the tell-tale signs of bronchiolitis with those of the common cold or flu and a third of parents of premature babies were made aware when leaving a paediatric or neonatal care unit, that their child is at higher risk of contracting bronchiolitis. You can find out the differences between a cold and bronchiolitis here at MoreThanACold.co.uk
Bronchiolitis affects one in three babies in the UK and is a seasonal condition occurring from October to March. It is caused by an inflammation of the tiny air passages deep inside the lungs, which causes breathing difficulties. While the majority of bronchiolitis cases are not serious, babies born prematurely or with heart or lung conditions are at greater risk of more severe complications. 80% of cases are caused by the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and each
year around 20,000 children in the UK are admitted to hospital with the RSV infection.
How to spot the signs of bronchiolitis
The symptoms of bronchiolitis can be very similar to a cold; however, babies with more severe bronchiolitis exhibit four symptoms (F.A.C.T), the most significant of which is a distinctive rasping cough:3 Â Â• Fast breathing: shallow, quick breaths not taking in much air Â Â• Appetite: inability to feed Â Â• Cough: distinctive rasping cough Â Â• Temperature: high temperature, usually with cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose.
How to prevent bronchiolitis
The viruses that cause bronchiolitis are very common and easily spread. It is, therefore, not possible to prevent the condition altogether, but there are some simple steps to reduce the chances of your child getting bronchiolitis. If your child already has bronchiolitis, then these simple steps below can help prevent the infection spreading further. Â Â• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water - especially before you touch the baby. Make sure siblings and visitors wash their hands too Â Â• Cover your child's nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze Â Â• Try to keep away from other children and adults who show signs of a cold Â Â• Wash or wipe toys regularly to prevent the spread of germs Â Â• Ensure your baby is kept away from tobacco smoke. Â Â• Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby
In some cases, babies with a high risk of developing severe bronchiolitis are given monthly antibody injections to help protect them from RSV infection. Your paediatrician or neonatologist will give you further information and advice if your child is at high risk.
Expert opinion Dr Shree Vishna Rasiah, a consultant neonatologist at Birmingham Women's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust says: Â“Whilst today's research suggests that hospitalisation rates for bronchiolitis are rising, awareness remains low, even among parents of high-risk babies. Education and prevention are the only way to reduce the number of babies presenting to hospital with breathing and feeding difficulties during the winter season.Â”
Â“I would advise all parents of young infants, particularly those with premature babies, to practice simple prevention methods at home such as good hand hygiene, regular washing of toys and keeping babies away from older children and adults with cold and flu like symptoms. These measures would reduce the risk of a baby getting bronchiolitis. In babies with bronchiolitis, it is important to be vigilant and seek medical advice early if there are concerns about the worsening breathing and feeding difficulties.Â”