Because bronchiolitis spreads from person to person, one of the best ways to prevent it is to wash your hands frequently — especially before touching your baby when you have a cold. Wearing a face mask at this time is appropriate. If your child has bronchiolitis, keep him or her at home until the illness is past to avoid spreading it to others.

Other effective ways that can help curb spread of the infection include:

  • Limit your child's contact with people who have a fever or cold. If your child is a newborn, especially a premature newborn, avoid exposure to people with colds in the first two months of life.
  • Get a flu shot. An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone older than 6 months. Although it will not prevent the commonest cause of bronchiolitis (respiratory syncytial virus), a flu shot will spare your child from a severe influenza infection.
  • Keep bathroom and kitchen countertops in your home clean. Be especially careful if another family member has a cold. To disinfect the area, you can use a solution of bleach and water made with a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of cool water (14.8 milliliters per 3.8 liters). Don't mix in any other chemicals, as this can create a toxic chemical reaction. Always store homemade mixtures in a labeled container out of the reach of young children or, better, discard unused mixtures.
  • Use a tissue only once. Discard used tissues promptly, then wash your hands or use alcohol hand sanitizer.
  • Use your own drinking glass. Don't share glasses with others.
  • Be prepared away from home. Keep a waterless hand sanitizer handy for yourself and for your child when you're away from home.
  • Wash hands. Frequently wash your own hands and those of your child.
  • Breast-feed. Breast-fed babies receive immunities from their mother.

No vaccine available

There's no vaccine for bronchiolitis. But the medication palivizumab (Synagis) can help decrease the likelihood of RSV infections in infants with high risk of severe disease, as well as decrease the need for hospitalization and limit severity of the illness. Palivizumab is typically given through a single injection into a large muscle, such as the thigh, once a month during the peak RSV season — from November through March.

Palivizumab doesn't interfere with childhood vaccines. Its expense generally limits its use to infants at particularly high risk of RSV infection, such as those born very prematurely or with a heart-lung condition or a depressed immune system.

May. 07, 2013

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