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Breathing and using oxygen with bronchiolitis

How will you check that my baby is breathing?

It can sometimes be hard work for your baby to get enough air in to breathe properly and provide their body with oxygen. This can be difficult when their airways are blocked with the sticky mucus that is caused by bronchiolitis. To check this, the nursing staff will check heart rates, breathing rates and oxygen levels.

Their oxygen levels will be monitored using a pulse oximeter machine either continuously or on a regular basis. In small babies an apnoea alarm may also be used.

What is a pulse oximeter?

A pulse oximeter is sometimes called a sats monitor and gives a reading of oxygen and heart rates. A probe will be attached to either a finger or toe and has alarms which are triggered if these rates either drop or are above the present levels on the machine.

What does an apnoea alarm do?

An apnoea alarm works by battery and bleeps every time your baby breathes. The alarm is activated if there is no breathing after 20 seconds.

How can you give oxygen if it is needed?

Oxygen can be given in 3 main ways:

Low flow oxygen

Low flow oxygen is given when small plastic tubes are placed in the nostrils and secured to the cheeks using tape. The oxygen can be regulated from 0.05 litres to 2 litres per minute.

High flow oxygen

High flow oxygen is given using a face mask that is placed over the mouth and nose. The oxygen can be regulated from 4L to 15L.

Hi-flow therapy

Hi-flow therapy is given using small plastic tubes that are placed into the nostrils and secured to the cheeks using tape. This type of therapy offers a flow or pressure, so pushes the oxygen into your baby’s nose rather than just being there for them to breathe in. It is also humidified so isn’t as dry as plain oxygen. This may help loosen the mucus in their airways.

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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: WD34-7

Resource Type: Article

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