When an infection gets into the bronchi, or large airway passages of the lungs, and causes inflammation, it is called bronchitis. In most cases, bronchitis is caused by a viral infection of the throat or sinus that spreads to the bronchi.
Bronchitis will usually start off like a typical cold; sore throat, runny nose, aches and fever. Then a cough will develop that is dry at first but quickly turns into a productive cough with thick mucus that is green or yellow. Your child will have shortness of breath and their chest will burn when they cough. Depending on the severity of the bronchitis, a fever may be present for several days and the cough could take weeks to subside.
You should call the doctor if the fever is 38.8 degrees Celsius or if present for more than a few days. Also, if you can tell that the cough is getting worse, your child is wheezing, or there is blood in the mucus, make an appointment. Naturally if your child is struggling to breathe, call emergency services right away.
Treatment for bronchitis is limited. The typical cause is viral and not bacterial; therefore, antibiotics will not help. In most cases, all you can do is keep your child hydrated, use a humidifier to help them breathe easier, administer children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen and keep them comfortable. The doctor may advise that you use an over the counter cough medicine that has an expectorant or they may prescribe an inhaler that uses bronchodilator medicine to open up the airways.