Bronchiolitis is usually caused by a viral infection, and is contagious. It's a common illness which leads to breathing problems in babies and children less than one year of age. It affects the smallest airways (bronchioles) in the lungs and is most common in winter and spring.
After catching bronchiolitis, the twins ended up at the intensive care unit at Tauranga Hospital and back on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open.
Unfortunately for Sarah and her family, it was a rocky road to recovery. Sarah says,
“After a lengthy recovery causing feeding issues and chronic lung disease also related to their premature birth, they went on to get bronchiolitis five more times.”
Most times meant a stay in hospital on oxygen and the use of a nasogastric tube for feeds. A nasogastric tube is where a thin plastic tube is inserted through the nostril and into the stomach.
Sarah says, “During well periods the girls developed a loud wheeze, constant cough and breathlessness not related to their prematurity. Before the twins started on inhalers they suffered from apnoeas, when you stop breathing in your sleep. Our paediatricians decided after our last apnoea episode in February of 2016 to prescribe Ventolin and the use of stronger steroids when sick."
Sarah’s family has a strong family history of asthma. Fortunately, Mila and Sakura responded really well to the medication that was prescribed, and haven’t had any further apnoea episodes. They have recently been prescribed preventers, which Sarah hopes to have a better winter with.
Sarah is part of the Bronchiolitis & Child Respiratory Support Group NZ, an online peer support network for New Zealand parents and caregivers who have a little one who has or has recovered from bronchiolitis.
If you would like to join the support group, search for ‘Bronchiolitis & Child Respiratory Support Group NZ’ on Facebook.
Mila and Sakura at age 3 years.
"While they mostly stay well they still have daily medication for asthma and often struggle through the winter, asthma is tough but my little girls are yougher!" - Sarah Chamberlain
Malachi Douds Nanapoy is a six-year-old from New Plymouth who presents with asthma. Malachi was born 31 weeks gestation (average is 40 weeks) and lives with respiratory conditions that impact on his health and his learning.
Melissa shares her story about her two little ones with bronchiolitis and how she used the power of social media to create a nation-wide support group.
Cheyanne tells her story of the emotional and traumatising near-death experience of her daughter Ngamihi caused by asthma.