A mother has urged parents to educate themselves about the symptoms of bronchiolitis after her young son contracted the little-known pathogen.

The chest infection, which causes swelling of the small airways in the lungs, usually begins with symptoms similar to those of a common cold.

Little Casper contracted bronchiolitis – a common chest infection


Little Casper contracted bronchiolitis – a common chest infectionCredit: minifirstaid
Dad Jamie and mom Jen with their little boy


Dad Jamie and mom Jen with their little boyCredit: minifirstaid

But it can quickly become a lot more serious, leading to trouble breathing and excruciating wheezing — something mom Jen and dad Jamie know all too well.

Her nine-month-old son Casper contracted bronchiolitis in June 2021.

He was “sneezing” and had conjunctivitis, which is why his parents took him to the family doctor.

There they were advised to monitor him closely for changes in his breathing.

Later that night, Casper was asleep in his father’s arms when they realized he was “blushing”.

“I could see he was working hard to breathe and I noticed his stomach was pulling in a little bit under his ribs,” Jen told the blog MiniFirstAid.

The family was about to go on vacation, and remembering the warning to act quickly for changes in breathing, they rushed Casper to the emergency room.

Doctors checked his oxygen level, which was 92. A typical, healthy value is between 95 and 100, according to the NHS.

Jen said: “We vividly remember that they were low but not panic wards.”

“But then a few things became clear that we didn’t go together.

“He had been really sick after breastfeeding the night before, his nappies were drier than usual and although he seemed hungry he wasn’t really worried about his milk.”

Worryingly, Casper’s oxygen levels then plummeted and his parents were told he needed ventilation while in a medically induced coma.

“We were really concerned,” Jen said. “It was inconceivable to us that Casper would need life support.

“We were totally shocked. Our hearts were in our mouths.”

“When he was on ventilators we actually felt a sense of calm – it was horrific to see him unconscious but we were (falsely) confident that it was pretty safe and he would definitely get better.”

We were really concerned. We were totally shocked. Our hearts are in our mouths.


It was around this time that Jen and Jamie learned that bronchiolitis typically gets worse between the third and fifth days of illness.

Casper was no exception. His mother and father, who were sleeping in a charity-supported apartment attached to the hospital, received a call in the middle of the night to say he was being transferred to another life support machine called the Oscillator.

This would hopefully give his lungs a rest, which is “crucial” for the youngster’s tiny organs.

“The sheer terror of not knowing what we were going to be told still haunts us,” Jen said.

“At 3am we were running through the streets to get to our baby, not knowing what we would find.

“However, it soon became apparent that despite the oscillator, Casper’s health was still deteriorating.

“The counselor sat down with us and explained that if we left Casper where he was, he wouldn’t be able to do it.”

The little one was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in case he needed to be placed on an ECMO machine, which pumps the patient’s blood out of the body and oxygenates it, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

Luckily the team there was “amazing” and the critically ill Casper was given alternative medication without needing the machine.

He also received constant suctions and baby physical therapy to clear his lungs.

But things went downhill again when his breathing tube became stuck as paramedics tried to remove it.


“We were devastated when Casper was back on life support,” Jen said.

“We were afraid of what would happen next.”

A few days later, the hospital staff tried again – this time successfully.

“We’ve never felt so much joy or gratitude,” Jen said.

The boy remained in intensive care for a few more days before being transferred back to a GOSH ward for monitoring.

He also had to undergo surgery to “bloat” his airways as they became swollen and swollen.

Eventually Casper returned home and has since made a full recovery.

But his parents want to warn others about the main signs of bronchiolitis and what to do if you think your child might get it.

She said: “Learn the signs of breathing difficulties – Casper’s stomach pulling in under his ribs was a critical sign – but also things like vomiting milk (the body prioritizes breathing over digestion).

“Act on these signs immediately and ignore anyone who says you’re panicking unnecessarily.”

“Trust your instincts – you know your baby best.

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“Don’t assume bronchiolitis is a winter disease – it happened to Casper in midsummer.”

“If your child has a cold, be careful not to expose them to other pathogens unless absolutely necessary.”

What is bronchiolitis?

BRONCHIOLITIS is a common chest infection that affects babies and children under the age of two.

It is different from bronchitis, which causes a cough with a lot of phlegm and affects people of all ages.

Bronchiolitis is usually relatively mild and can be treated at home, but it can be very serious.

Early symptoms include:

  • Sneeze
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Slightly higher temperature of 38 °C

As the condition worsens, children may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Faster Breathing
  • I have a hard time eating or eating anything
  • panting
  • irritability

Symptoms are usually at their worst between the third and fifth day. The cough usually gets better within three weeks.

There is no specific treatment for bronchiolitis, and the condition often gets better on its own.

However, in some cases it can be serious and children may need to be hospitalized.

You should call 999 or go to the emergency room if your child is having trouble breathing, making grunting noises, or sucking his tummy under the ribs.

Other warning signs include pauses in breathing, blue skin, tongue, or lips, and slackness and difficulty staying awake.

Parents should ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if their child has a worsening cold, is eating much less than normal, has had a diaper dry for more than 12 hours, is warmer than usual, or is behaving very tired or irritable.

According to the National Childcare Trust, around one in three babies will develop bronchiolitis during their first year of life.

According to the government, one percent of hospital patients die from the disease.

Source: NHS

He was placed in an induced coma and put on a ventilator


He was placed in an induced coma and put on a ventilatorCredit: minifirstaid

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