The guidance has come from NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to raise awareness of bronchiolitis, a common lower respiratory tract infection, which affects one in three babies in the UK in the first year of their life.
Dr David Kelly GP, chair of the CCG said: “Bronchiolitis is caused by an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs called bronchioles, which restricts the amount of air able to enter the lungs, making it more difficult for the child to breathe. An airborne virus, known as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is responsible for 80 percent of cases of bronchiolitis, and winter is the most common time of year for this.”
In a recent national survey of 2,000 parents aged 18 to 40 with children aged five and under, 58 percent had never heard of the condition.
As a result, parents have now been asked to look out for early symptoms of bronchiolitis which can be like those of a common cold; the first symptom is usually a blocked or runny nose, which is sometimes accompanied by a cough or slightly high temperature (a normal temperature is 36-36.8 C or 96.8-98.2F.)
“Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and symptoms can be eased with over-the-counter medicines. Your local pharmacist can offer expert advice on which ones are suitable for young babies and children,” added Dr Kelly.
“However, these early, relatively mild symptoms can become more severe so it is very important to regularly monitor babies and young children to look out for significant changes.”
Babies who may have a more severe case of bronchiolitis usually exhibit four specific symptoms, and a good way of remembering is F.A.C.T.
- Fast breathing: shallow, quick breaths not taking in much air
- Appetite: inability to feed
- Cough: distinctive, rasping cough
- Temperature: high temperature will usually accompany cold-like symptoms or runny nose
“If babies or young children exhibit all of these symptoms, then medical attention should be sought. Severe symptoms typically last for two to three days before easing, and in many cases the condition can be treated without having to go to hospital,” said Dr Kelly.
Advice from local GPS to stop bronchiolitis spreading includes washing hands regularly with soap and water, covering your child’s nose or mouth when they sneeze, washing toys to prevent the spread of germs, keeping away from other babies and children and protecting babies from tobacco smoke.
Lyndsey Benson, manager of Little Acorns Nursery in Towngate, Mirfield said: “We believe it’s very important to encourage good hand washing habits from a very early age. The children know that at meal times and especially after visiting the toilet, they have to wash their hands and they head to the sinks straight away!
“Our older babies are not forgotten too; we sit them on our knees and wash their hands and it’s amazing how quickly they become used to it.”
To read more about bronchiolitis, visit the NHS website page at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bronchiolitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx