Is It Bronchitis, Bronchiolitis or Croup?

Bronchitis, Bronchiolitis and Croup - A Comparison

bronchitis bronchiolitis or croup  

Bronchitis

  • Can affect people of any age (more common in adults and older children)
  • Causes inflammation of the trachea and upper bronchial tubes

Bronchiolitis

  • Mainly affects children under two years of age
  • Occurs when the bronchioles (smallest airways in the lungs) become inflamed restricting air movement, making it more difficult to breath

Croup

  • Mainly affects children up to around 12 years of age
  • Swelling of the upper airways including trachea (wind pipe)and larynx (voice box)

Causes

Causes

Causes

  • Both conditions can be caused by viruses
  • Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses like the flu and the common cold
  • Chronic bronchitis is generally caused by smoking cigarettes and other lung irritants
  • May be bacterial also
  • Bronchiolitis is usually caused by a viral infection like the common cold or flu.
  • Around half of bronchiolitis cases are caused by the syncytial virus
  • croup is an infection from the human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs)
  • It is airborne, spread by contact with coughs and sneezes from an infected person, and/or hand to mouth after touching an infected surface

Symptoms

Symptoms

Symptoms

  • Productive cough (coughing up mucus)
  • Short of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Tightness or discomfort in the chest 

Seek Professional Medical Advice If your child shows any of the following:

  • The cough hinders their sleep or lasts longer than three weeks
  • They are wheezing
  • The mucus is bright green or yellow (this is a common sign of infection)
  • They have blood in their sputum (a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed from the lungs)
  • Dry, raspy cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Low fever

Seek Professional Medical Advice If your child shows any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Their breathing rate is 50-60 breaths per minute
  • They have a temperature which is 38˚C (100.4˚F) or more
  • They are unusually irritable and/or tired
  • You have not needed to change their diaper in 12 hours
  • They develop a bluish tinge in the face or lips
  • Barking cough
  • Cold symptoms like runny nose and sneezing
  • Fever
  • Heavy breathing
  • There may be stridor (a high pitched sound when they breath in)

Seek Professional Medical Advice If your child shows any of the following:

  • Stridor
  • Nonstop coughing
  • They are less than one year old with a croupy cough
  • They have an earache or there is ear drainage
  • They have a fever for more than three days
  • The fever returns after it has been gone for 24 hours

Treatment

Treatment

Treatment

  • See Your Doctor
  • Antibiotics to fight bacterial infection
  • Cough mixtures to help with sleeping
  • Your doctor may prescribe steroidal medication to reduce inflammation
  • Inhalation medications to open the airways
  • For chronic bronchitis you may need pulmonary rehabilitation

There is no cure for bronchiolitis but you can make your child more comfortable and ease mild symptoms

  • Give them plenty of fluids
  • If you have a humidifier use it to keep the air moist to help their breathing and/or cough
  • Heat your home to a comfortable temperature (not too hot)
  • Make your home a smoke free environment
  • You may give Acetaminophen and ibuprofen to relieve a fever and help with any aches and pains

If your child has difficulty breathing, is showing a bluish tinge around the face / lips, or they are not drinking enough they may need to be hospitalized – Call an ambulance or take them to the nearest emergency room.

  • If you have a humidifier use it to keep the air moist, this may help with breathing/coughing
  • Run a hot shower and fill the bathroom with steam, sit with your child for 20 minutes in the steam filled environment (this may help with breathing)

If you have any concerns talk to your doctor

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