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Bronchitis in toddlers usually begins as a cold, and a child with bronchitis may initially display typical cold symptoms that often include cough, runny nose, and possibly a sore throat. Over a short period of time, a bronchitis cough may become more frequent and is usually dry rather than productive at first. As the bronchitis progresses, the cough might become productive and may get much worse at night, often interfering with normal sleeping patterns. In addition to a bad cough, a toddler with bronchitis may also experience wheezing, fever, and pain in the chest area from the strain of frequent coughing.
Bronchitis often goes undiagnosed because parents believe that their child is just suffering from the common cold. Fortunately, bronchitis typically goes away on its own after a few weeks, although a child may continue to have problems with coughing for up to a month after the illness is gone. Bronchitis in toddlers is typically the result of a bacterial or viral infection. Children who suffer from asthma or live in an environment where people smoke are typically much more likely to come down with bronchitis than other children. Geographical areas that are severely polluted often report more cases of bronchitis than unpolluted areas.
Doctors typically base their diagnosis of bronchitis in toddlers on symptoms. Chest s-rays and blood tests are occasionally necessary when diagnosing bronchitis so that problems like pneumonia or lung infections can be ruled out. Antibiotics may or may not be needed to treat bronchitis depending on what caused it. If a child's bronchitis is the result of a viral infection, antibiotics are typically not prescribed. Antibiotics may be useful against bronchitis caused by bacterial infections.
Regardless of whether or not antibiotics or other medicines are prescribed to treat bronchitis in toddlers, there are some things parents can do at home to make their children more comfortable. Doctors often recommend placing humidifiers in a child's room at night to help with the frequent coughing associated with bronchitis. The added steam in the air can help to minimize coughing and help a child sleep better. There are medicines available over the counter for children to help with cough symptoms, but it may not be wise for a parent to use these without first asking the child's doctor because these medicines are occasionally not recommended in children less than a certain age. In general, lots of rest, fluid, and the use of a vaporizer may shorten the duration of bronchitis in toddlers.
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