BREATHING PROBLEMS IN BABIES- HOW TO HANDLE
Croup and epiglottitis are two illnesses in babies. Croup commonly affects children aged between 6 months and 3 years. Epiglottitis occurs among children aged between 2 and 6.
Croup: It is usually a mild illness but it sometimes causes severe breathing difficulties and sometimes require emergency treatment. It starts with the symptoms of common cold including runny nose and sneezing. After 1 or 2 days, the symptoms include,
- Noisy breathing
- Hoarse voice
- Persistent, barking cough.
In severe cases a child may have:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Abnormally fast breathing
- Bluish tongue and sometimes skin
Episodes of croup occur usually early in the morning and last for a few hours.
If symptoms persist, take your child to the doctor.
At home: Give paracetamol syrup and warm drinks frequently. Keep the child’s room moist or take him to the bathroom near a bucket of hot water. This helps in clearing the nasal passages.
Epiglottitis: This could become a fatal infection. It mainly affects children between age 2 and 6. Haemophillus Influenzae is a bacterium that causes epiglottitis. This bacterium causes inflammation of the epiglottis which is a flap of cartilage at the entrance of the larynx. The epiglottis swells and blocks the passage of air.
Epiglottitis comes on suddenly. The main symptoms are:
- Difficulty and pain in swallowing
- Drooling because the child cannot swallow his or her saliva
- Noisy breathing that becomes quieter as the illness worsens.
- Increasing difficulty in breathing. The child will probably want to sit upright in order to ease breathing.
- Bluish discoloration of the tongue and sometimes the skin
If your child has difficulty in swallowing and breathing, take him to the hospital emergency department. There is a risk of complete airway obstruction. You should not attempt to look down your child’s throat, because he or she may start to cry. Crying increases the production of juices which may totally block the narrowed airway.
After examination, the doctor will ask for an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis. Antibiotics will be given intravenously. In some cases, an anaesthetic may be given to bypass the epiglottis by inserting a tube through the nose and into the windpipe.
Children who are treated promptly make a complete recovery, usually within a week. A child who has had this injection becomes immune. Immunization done correctly and at the right time prevents this illness.