What is bronchiolitis?
- Common illness of the respiratory tract
- Caused by an infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles
- Inflammation and mucus build-up in the bronchioles
What causes bronchiolitis?
- Viral infections are the most common cause
- RSV – Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the name of a specific virus that causes bronchiolitis
What are symptoms of bronchiolitis?
- Symptoms are usually more severe in younger children. Older children might only have typical cold symptoms.
- Your child may have a bad cough, hard time breathing, or wheezing
- Your child may have runny nose or congestion
- Your child may have a fever
- Your child may want to eat and drink less
Cold: Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
Cold symptoms may include:
- Fever (temperature of 100.4 or higher)
- Cough (dry or wet sounding)
- Runny nose
- Poor feeding
Bronchiolitis: Lower Respiratory Tract Infection
May include cold symptoms, plus:
- Fast breathing
- Flaring of the nostrils & head bobbing with breathing
- Rhythmic grunting during breathing (see sound clip clip, below)
- Belly breathing, tugging between the ribs and/or the lower neck (see video, below)
How is it treated?
- Usually, no medications are prescribed.
- Using nasal saline drops and suctioning of the nose are helpful
- Encourage lots of fluids - smaller, more frequent drinks
- Your child’s provider may advise taking your child to the hospital if they are having trouble breathing or trouble staying hydrated
What can help prevent it?
- Lots of hand washing
- Avoid smoke exposure
- Avoid others who are sick
- Ensure your child is up to date on vaccines
- Avoid sharing food or beverages
When to see your child’s provider:
- Your child is showing any signs of trouble breathing
- Concerns for dehydration:
- Lips and mouth look dry
- your child has urinated less than three times in 24 hours
- Your child is not producing tears when crying
- Your child is getting worse
- Your child has fever for 5 days
This publication was adapted from information within American Academy of Pediatrics Patient Education Handouts, Rady Children’s Hospital, and UpToDate.com.
Reviewed by: TT D.O., AR D.O | 08/2023