Children's Hospital Colorado

Treating Bronchiolitis in Children (S1:E23)

Bronchiolitis is a type of viral infection in the lungs that's a common childhood illness pediatricians experience with regularity. Parents will often bring their child into the pediatrician's office with cold symptoms, and the doctor will notice that the patient is working hard to breathe. While most cases of childhood bronchiolitis are mild, this form of respiratory distress is also the leading cause of hospitalization in infants and young children.

Listen to a pediatric respiratory expert discuss bronchiolitis diagnosis and treatment

In today's episode of Charting Pediatrics, we're discussing bronchiolitis with Monica Federico, MD, Medical Director of both the Asthma Program and Clinical Alignment at Children's Hospital Colorado. Dr. Federico is passionate about helping families through difficult and frightening times, and her insights are valuable for pediatricians and parents alike.

In this episode, our expert explains:

  • How primary care providers can diagnose the classic presentations of bronchiolitis, including how to properly screen for symptoms.
  • How providers can screen for bronchiolitis.
  • Why ordering a chest X-ray may not be a cost-effective diagnostic tool.
  • How to utilize the Bronchiolitis Clinical Pathway from Children's Colorado.
  • When to use bronchodilators and steroids for bronchiolitis treatment.
  • How to identify children who are most likely to develop bronchiolitis.

Criteria for hospitalization in cases of bronchiolitis

A parent may bring their child to the emergency department when bronchodilators and steroids fail to ease symptoms of bronchiolitis. Fortunately, there are a number of cost-effective and safe measures that can be used to help the patient breathe easier. Suctioning the nose and hydration to help thin mucus are two commonly recommended treatment options. For children with low oxygen saturation levels, supplemental oxygen may be required.

High-altitude locations also merit special considerations, which Dr. Frederico will explain in detail. She also shares best practices for weaning a child off oxygen and reassures listeners that these children typically recover over time.

Bronchiolitis screening and treatment at Children's Colorado

At Children's Colorado, babies and children with bronchiolitis and other forms of respiratory distress are treated at our Breathing Institute. Our pediatric pulmonologists care for children with a variety of pediatric breathing conditions, including shortness of breath, wheezing, noisy breathing, oxygen dependency and more. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.