New research could help revolutionise the way babies are treated for bronchiolitis.
The Flinders Medical Centre is conducting a world first study into bronchiolitis and other illness that can consequently develop as a result of it.
Thousands of children are hospitalised each year for bronchiolitis and 60 per cent of these will develop asthma later on in life.
Given that Bronchiolitis is a viral respiratory tract infection that typically affects children under 12 months old, this study has the potential to change the way infants and small children are treated.
A new treatment is just years away
The only treatment currently available is high flow oxygen. However, experts at the Flinders Medical Centre are undergoing extensive research in an attempt to better understand the condition (as well as the different types and what causes it).
More specifically, experts are hoping to study the virus thoroughly and its impact on babies in the hope of uncovering the inflammatory markers in the airways that cause the body to respond so aggressively. They are hoping to find a way to ‘switch them off’ before any long term damage is caused.
“It amazes me that for such a common condition it’s still a black box, it’s still poorly understood by science,” Kevin Forsyth, Professor of Paediatrics at Flinders Medical Centre tells Nine News.
“Our hospital beds here are full on infants with bronchiolitis through the winter period.”
Professor Forsyth believes with research and new treatment, they could be just two years away from finding a new treatment for bronchiolitis.
“The body can sometimes switch on its defences so strongly that it damages the lung tissue around the virus,” he adds.
“Once we understand it better we can design treatments to intervene, so it’s not just giving oxygen, it’s actually turning off the inflammation that’s causing so much trouble.”
What is bronchiolitis?
Bronchiolitis is common chest infection that appears like a common cold but can cause coughing, wheezing and at times difficulty breathing.
It’s caused by a virus and most commonly occurs during the winter months.
Symptoms can last for a week to a month, and in severe cases hospitalisation is required.
Bronchiolitis is infectious, so can be spread from one person to the next.
How to treat bronchiolitis
Make sure your baby is having plenty of rest.
Make sure your baby is drinking plenty of water to stop them from becoming dehydrated.
Seek medical help immediately if:
- Your little one’s breathing is irregular
- They refuse food and drink
- Your baby is turning blue
- Your little one seems very agitated and irritable.
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