Cold Comfort

Bronchiolitis

It looks like: A bad cold along with a wet cough, wheezing, and loose stools: "You'll notice mucus in your child's stools and that's exactly what it is, mucus he's swallowed, because babies don't spit it out," Dr. Cardona explains.

What's happening: Infants get bronchiolitis when a virus (usually respiratory syncytial virus, aka RSV) inflames the tiniest tubes in the lungs, called bronchioles, clogging them with mucus. For many young children, this is only a minor infection. "People panic when they hear RSV," Dr. Cardona says. "Most of the scary stuff you read about happened to kids who were in the NICU, who had serious lung issues from the get-go. But if your baby was healthy before the symptoms started, she's going to be fine." Treat it like a common cold.

Call the doctor: If your munchkin refuses to eat, it's time for expert help. "Babies can't breathe and eat at the same time, so the best indicator of a problem is when your child won't breastfeed or take a bottle," Dr. Beno says. Other signs: rapid breathing, flaring nostrils, and retractions. When Wilson's son, Clark, got RSV at 3 weeks old, she counted his breaths with a stopwatch. Go to the ER if Baby is taking more than 80 breaths a minute. Doctors may try medications to open the airways, or your babe may be admitted to the hospital where she can get oxygen and IV fluids to prevent dehydration.

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