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    Chronic Bronchitis, Pediatric

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    Apr.20.2022
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    Chronic Bronchitis, Pediatric

    Chronic Bronchitis, Pediatric

    Outline of a child's upper body showing the lungs, with close-ups of two bronchi, one healthy and one inflamed.

    Chronic bronchitis is inflammation inside of the main airways (bronchi) that come off the windpipe (trachea) in the lungs. The swelling causes the airways to narrow and make more mucus than normal. This can make it hard to breathe and may cause coughing or noisy breathing (wheezing). Chronic bronchitis in children is a longer-term (chronic) condition. It is usually associated with other chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

    Children who get frequent colds and other infections in the nose, throat, or airways may have long-term airway injury or inflammation. This makes them more prone to get longer-lasting lung infections like chronic bronchitis.

    What are the causes?

    This condition is often caused by:
    • Frequent lung infections.
    • Allergies.
    • Being around cigarette or other tobacco smoke.
    • Breathing in (aspirating) food, fluid, secretions, or even toys.
    • Having problems with the cartilage of the trachea.
    • A tracheostomy. This is a tube placed into the windpipe for breathing.

    What are the signs or symptoms?

    The main symptom of this condition is a wet cough that lasts 4 weeks or longer. Other symptoms may include:
    • A cough that brings up mucus (productive cough).
    • Wheezing or crackling sounds when breathing.
    • Feeling short of breath.
    • Chest tightness or soreness.
    • Fever or chills.
    • Colds or respiratory infections that go away and return.

    How is this diagnosed?

    Your child's health care provider may diagnose this condition based on your child's signs and symptoms, especially if your child has had a cough that lasts for a long time or keeps coming back.

    The condition may be diagnosed based on:
    • Your child's symptoms and medical history.
    • A physical exam, including listening to your child's lungs.
    • Tests, such as:
      • Testing a mucus sample.
      • Blood tests.
      • Chest X-ray.
      • Breathing tests (pulmonary function testing).
      • A bronchoscopy. This test uses a thin, flexible scope to look at the lungs.

    How is this treated?

    Treatment for this condition depends on the cause. Possible treatments for your child's chronic bronchitis include:
    • Having your child drink more fluid. This can thin your child's mucus so it is easier to cough up.
    • Mucus-clearing techniques. Your child's health care provider will show you which techniques are best for your child.
    • Medicines such as:
      • Inhaled medicine (inhaler) to improve air flow in and out of your child's lungs.
      • Antibiotics for bacterial infections.
      • Mucus-thinning medicines.
      • Allergy medicines.

    Follow these instructions at home:

    Medicines

    • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child's health care provider.
    • If your child was prescribed an antibiotic medicine, give it as told by your child's health care provider. Do not stop giving the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.

    Preventing infections

    • Have your child get vaccinations as told by his or her health care provider. Make sure your child gets a flu shot (influenza vaccine) every year.
    • Have your child wash his or her hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, have your child use hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid having your child be around people who have symptoms of a cold or the flu.
    • Keep your child's environment free from any known allergens, such as dust, mold, pets, and pollen.

    General instructions

    A do not smoke cigarettes sign.
    • Make sure your child gets enough rest at home.
    • Make sure your child drinks enough fluid to keep his or her urine pale yellow.
    • Have your child return to his or her normal activities as told by his or her health care provider. Ask your child's health care provider what activities are safe for your child.
    • Do not allow your child to use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco. These products include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes.
    • Do not smoke around your child. If you or your child needs help quitting, ask your health care provider.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • Your child has a fever, muscle aches, or chest pain.
    • Your child has noisy breathing.
    • Your child has a cough that does not get better.
    • Your child's mucus gets thicker or changes color.
    • Your child coughs up blood.
    • Your child is eating and drinking less or losing weight.

    Get help right away if:

    • Your child is having trouble breathing.
    • Your child has blue-tinged lips or fingernails.
    • Your child is drowsy or very tired (lethargic).

    These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).

    Summary

    • Chronic bronchitis is inflammation inside of the main airways (bronchi) that come off the windpipe (trachea) in the lungs. The swelling causes the airways to narrow and make more mucus than normal.
    • The main symptom of this condition is a wet cough that lasts 4 weeks or longer.
    • If your child was prescribed an antibiotic medicine, give it as told by your child's health care provider. Do not stop giving the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.
    • Do not smoke around your child. If you or your child needs help quitting, ask your health care provider.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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