Bronchiolitis is characterized by damaged or inflamed small airways in the lungs. The inflammation is often brought about by infections, certain medications, after transplant procedures and some forms of arthritis. Injury can also result from exposure to strong irritants such as toxic and acid fumes.
Regardless of the exact cause, the small airways of the bronchioles are narrowed and the passage of air is disrupted which results to shortness of breath and coughing.
Is bronchiolitis a serious condition?
Bronchiolitis is considered as a common lung condition that typically occurs among young children since they develop frequent respiratory infections.
The seriousness of the condition usually depends on the severity and how long it lasts. If related to infection, it settles without causing lasting damage. If linked to toxic exposure such as acids, some of the symptoms might be present to a certain degree permanently.
Not all individuals with bronchiolitis develop any symptoms. Once the symptoms manifest, they are typically linked to inflammation in the small airways such as:
- Shortness of breath
If triggered by an irritating substance, it can cause irritation in other parts of the body including the nose, eyes and throat.
The commonly used treatment options for bronchiolitis include prescription medications to control the specific symptoms. Cough medications are given to suppress the cough while inhalers are used to alleviate shortness of breath.
The other treatment options usually depend on the exact cause of damage to the airways. Once brought about by medication or inhalation of a toxic substance, limiting exposure is enough.
If triggered by a specific condition such as arthritis, the treatment might include medications for arthritis.
Once the symptoms are severe, the doctor might prescribe steroids. These are potent medications that fight off inflammation. Even though effective, steroids can cause side effects including increased blood sugar level, increased appetite and weight gain. In addition, steroids also suppress the immune system.