HeathcareBronchiolitis epidemic: can adults get sick too?

Bronchiolitis epidemic: can adults get sick too?


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The epidemic returns every year, more or less intensely. The 2022-23 infant bronchiolitis season has started off strong, with weekly hospitalizations and emergency room visits rising to levels not seen in a decade. In social networks, some netizens wondered can adults get bronchiolitis. The answer is yes, but “it is not the same disease as in children,” points out Parisian professor Mathieu Molimar, a pulmonologist and pharmacologist at the University Hospital of Bordeaux.

Bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the bronchioles, the pulmonary ducts that dilate the bronchi. It may have multiple sources. In toddlers, the most common culprit is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). “Adults can also get RSV, but much less frequently and to a lesser extent due to their underlying immunity. This most often leads to a simple cold or bronchitis,” says Mathieu Molimar.

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However, older people are more at risk of contracting RSV, which could have an “impact” on them due to lower immunity, the Ministry of Health points out. “This intense epidemic of bronchiolitis in infants could be followed by quite severe attacks in the elderly,” fears a hospital doctor and researcher who specializes in respiratory viruses.

“Different” symptoms

In middle-aged adults, bronchiolitis often results from infection with another virus or bacteria, for example, in association with intracellular microbes. “Recently, I was treating bronchiolitis in a person infected with a bacterium who was in a hot tub,” Professor François Vincent, a pulmonologist at Limoges University Hospital, illustrates in Sud Ouest. This can also happen, for example, after a lung transplant or a bone marrow transplant.

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“Unlike bronchiolitis in children, which is mostly viral and acute, bronchiolitis in adults does not present with the same symptoms, which can vary depending on the cause of the bronchiolitis,” we read on the public website medisite.fr. The most common disorders are “cough, shortness of breath, shortness of breath, etc.,” lists Mathieu Molimar. You can use various drugs (corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, etc.).

In some cases, bronchiolitis can somehow “transform” into bronchiolitis obliterans with pulmonary organization (BOP), also known as cryptogenic organized pneumonia (CRP). “It’s more difficult because she becomes less sensitive to cortisone,” explains Francois Vincent. If the patient is affected, “thereafter, pulmonary follow-up is necessary to detect possible recurrence,” Swiss Medical Review concludes.

Source: Le Parisien

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