Bronchitis is an inflammation of the large airway passages that connect the windpipe to the lungs. If your child has bronchitis, she might breathe harder and produce more mucus than normal, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. Bronchitis treatment depends on the cause of the infection.
Causes of bronchitis
Bronchitis happens when a virus or bacteria infects the big airway passages of the lungs, causing them to get inflamed.
Bronchitis symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat and a mild fever. Your child might also have a dry or moist (mucus-producing) cough. He might be a bit short of breath and have some wheezing.
If your child is wheezing a lot and is short of breath, it could be asthma or bronchiolitis. Severe coughing and wheezing in children is more likely to be caused by asthma than by bronchitis. Your doctor will work out what’s causing your child’s symptoms.
Bronchitis is more common in adults, but can occur in children.
When to see your doctor about bronchitis symptoms
You should see a doctor if your child:
- has had asthma attacks in the past
- has a cough that isn’t settling down after 7-10 days
- has a wheeze or is short of breath
- is having trouble breathing.
Tests for bronchitis
The doctor can tell whether your child is likely to have bronchitis by asking you questions about your child’s symptoms and by examining your child.
Your doctor might also refer your child for a chest X-ray if the cough doesn’t go away.
Bronchitis usually takes about a week to sort itself out, and generally doesn’t cause any complications.
If coughing and wheezing don’t go away, your doctor might advise some short-term use of anti-asthma medication.
If your doctor thinks a bacterial infection is causing the bronchitis, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics aren’t often prescribed, however, because bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, and antibiotics won’t work for viruses.
Cough medicines usually don’t help a bronchitis cough. Honey might reduce the severity and duration of a bronchitis cough, but you shouldn’t give honey to children aged under 12 months.