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I want to raise awareness of bronchiolitis

When Steph's twin boys caught a cold, she never imagined that one of them would end up in intensive care.

Steph holding her twins, Reece and Luca

Reece and Luca were born prematurely, arriving at 34 weeks. When they were 5½ weeks old, they caught (what I first thought to be) a cold.

I was told by the doctor and my health visitor that it was all fine, but after a few days the cold kept getting worse. Luca stopped waking and feeding, and I noticed a change in the way they were breathing - it was much faster than normal and more laboured.

I knew something was really wrong. I knew this was not how a baby should be.

I took them to my GP surgery and this time we were sent straight to hospital, where the boys were both put into the high dependency unit (HDU). I was told the twins had bronchiolitis, a condition I’d never heard of.

Bronchiolitis is common in babies between 3 and 6 months. It starts like a simple cold and, in most cases, only has mild symptoms that you can take care of at home. However, it can be serious.

After some X-rays, the doctors found that nearly whole of Luca’s left lung was completely blocked. He was transferred to intensive care.

Luca was attached to a ventilator to help him breathe. It was really difficult to watch. After 5 days they tried to take him off, but he couldn’t take it and so had to be put back on. It felt as if it was never going to end. 

Finally, after 7 long days Luca was taken off the ventilator and began to improve. It felt very strange to cuddle him again! 24 hours later, he was discharged.

Reece and Luca in their high chairs

But that wasn't the end

Two weeks later I noticed the twins were breathing rapidly again - and this time they had spots. I called an ambulance and they ended up back in hospital.

They were diagnosed with meningitis. After another 6 days in hospital they were able to return home. I was so terrified to take them outside. Because they’re twins, everyone wants to look at them, everyone wants to touch them. I had to say, 'please don't touch them, they could get poorly.'

A year on, I still worry every time they cough! If they do get a cold, they tend to get very wheezy. But they now have asthma inhalers and other medication to reduce airway inflammation.

I want more people to understand bronchiolitis, and how serious it can be

Many parents I’ve spoken to know as little about bronchiolitis as I did. I want to raise awareness about the possibility of severe symptoms - even if they only occur in a small minority of cases.

I’m so glad I contacted my GP when I did. Parents need to know when to take urgent action and the warning signs to look out for.

Take a look at our bronchiolitis information now.

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27 March 2019