Coat, hat, gloves, scarf … everything is little to protect children from the cold, but this care is often not enough to escape viruses. “This is the case of laryngitis and bronchiolitis, which are highly contagious respiratory infections of viral origin,” says Dr. Pablo Bello, Head of the Pediatric Service of the Quirónsalud Valle del Henares Hospital in Torrejón de Ardoz . This complicates its prevention, although we can always apply some precautionary measures such as cleaning our hands frequently , not staying with adults or minors with these diseases and not going to places with a closed environment where there are many people, or where people smoke.
It is true that the signs that almost all respiratory diseases present are similar : cough, mucus, fever … symptoms that recur every winter, especially in children. However, there are differences between the different conditions, which will help us distinguish them . In the specific case of laryngitis and bronchiolitis, the difference lies in the area of the respiratory tract affected, which in the first case is the upper part and in the second the lower part. This translates into small nuances in the symptoms, which differ, for example, in the type of cough that each one causes: both dry, but with a very characteristic doggy sound in laryngitis, while bronchiolitis usually presents more signs acute respiratory distress in the abdomen.
Effects of laryngitis and how to treat them
It is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation of the larynx, which is located in the upper tract of the respiratory system, specifically at the beginning of the throat, at the level of the vocal cords.
Dr. Bello, from the Quirónsalud Valle del Henares hospital tells us that “laryngitis generally affects children between six months and six years old , and is more frequent in the cold months.”
The most characteristic symptom , and one that usually alerts parents, is a strong , dry cough , similar to the sound of a dog barking. Likewise, children can manifest:
Snot and fever , especially the first few days.
Noise when breathing . Some children may make a sound when inhaling, also known as stridor, during laryngitis.
Difficulty breathing. In some cases, laryngeal inflammation can complicate the access of air, causing rapid breathing in the child, that is, ribs marked or a chest wall that compresses more than usual while breathing.
Laryngitis is not usually a serious infection , and it ends up clearing up on its own. However, our pediatrician tells us that “cases in which the child presents noise when breathing or respiratory distress may require treatment to reduce inflammation of the larynx with drugs such as corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory”, explains the specialist.
How to treat inflammation of the larynx?
With these tips, symptoms in children can be improved:
Do not force the child to eat, if he does not want to, since a lack of appetite is normal during laryngitis.
Inhale moist air. It can be achieved in the bathroom, accompanying the child with the door closed and leaving the hot water tap open for 10 to 20 minutes. Other options are using a humidifier or placing containers of water on the radiators.
Make it easier for the child to breathe cold air through the window, sheltering him beforehand. This helps decrease inflammation of the airway tissue.
Beware of antibiotics! They are not useful for laryngitis because it is a viral infection. Neither are collars with water and alcohol, which can cause skin irritation.
What about syrups and suppositories? Before it is important to go to the pediatrician to indicate if they are suitable.
Treat the fever with the antipyretic prescribed in the Pediatric office, such as ibuprofen, and observe how it evolves.
Bronchiolitis: what is it and how to act
Like laryngitis, it is a viral respiratory infection that affects pediatric ages, especially newborns and children under two years of age. “In bronchiolitis,” notes Dr. Bello, “inflammation occurs in the lower respiratory tract, rather than the upper area, as in laryngitis. Furthermore, its diagnosis between November and April is common, and most cases are caused by the respiratory syncytial virus ”.
The first symptoms are similar to those of a cold, such as cough and mucus , and last about three to four days.Later, the child has difficulty breathing , which means that he inhales in an accelerated way, continuously moving the abdomen and we see his ribs marked. Other symptoms that the minor may manifest are sleep apnea, loss of appetite and fever in some cases.
How to relieve bronchiolitis?
At home we can apply these measures:
Slightly incorporated position in the crib. To do this, you can place a towel under the mattress, on the headboard.
Do not go to daycare.
Shelter, yes, but not excessively.
Avoid exposure to smoke or, of course, tobacco.
Maintain hydration with small intakes of liquids, through the breast or bottle for the little ones.
Normal diet, in a smaller quantity and more frequently.
Help the expulsion of mucus, if it is the case, using physiological saline or through gentle aspiration.
It should be added that, according to our specialist, “in some cases hospital treatment may be needed, such as oxygen, hypertonic saline aerosols, bronchodilators …”, concluding that “after experiencing bronchiolitis , some children will present similar episodes, with cough and shortness of breath “.
When to take the child to the emergency room?
It is logical for parents to be concerned about the symptoms of laryngitis and bronchiolitis. Therefore, it is vital that they are attentive to its evolution, as well as other warning signs.
In cases of laryngitis, it is advisable to be vigilant if symptoms worsen. For example, it is advisable to go to the emergency room when the sound or stridor occurs in a calm breathing or if the child cannot take air correctly, that is, it accelerates, the ribs are marked, the gut moves continuously, the area sinks pectoral or neck is stretched. Likewise, the emergency department should be contacted if the child cannot swallow, drools excessively, or the mouth, or its surroundings, turns blue or pale.
As for bronchiolitis , the warning signs are changes in the color of the skin, which turns pale or purple, a greater difficulty in breathing or pauses in it. It is also important to consult the emergency room if hardly you eat, vomit or drink it makes you fatigue, as well as if you tend to sleep, get irritated and your health, in general, is bad.