Bronchiolitis in Children

Have your children had that persistent cough, which leads to wheezing & shortness of breath? Has your family doctor spoken to you about bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is inflammation of the bronchioles, the smallest air passages of the lungs. It usually occurs in infants less than 2 years of age.

Bronchiolitis starts out with symptoms similar to those of a common cold but then progresses to more severe symptoms of coughing, wheezing and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms can last for longer than those of a common cold, weeks or even a month.

Typically, the peak time for bronchiolitis is during the winter months.

What are the causes of Bronchiolitis?

Viral Bronchiolitis

Viruses are small invisible to the eyes, microscopic organisms that reproduce rapidly. The common types of viral infections that may cause bronchiolitis are

  1. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): RSV is the most common cause. RSV basically strikes babies less than 1 year of age. This contagious and dangerous viral infection produces inflammation, mucus, and swelling in the airways.
  2. Adenoviruses: 10 % of the acute respiratory tract infections in children.
  3. Influenza Viruses: This virus causes inflammation of the lungs, nose and throat. Influenza affects both adults and children especially dangerous for babies who don’t have strong immune systems.

When to contact the physician?


When you see more longer lasting symptoms then you should definitely consult your family doctor or a physician. Some symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscles around the ribs sink in as the child tries to breathe in
  • Infant’s nostrils get wide when breathing

What are some test that are run to identify if my child has bronchiolitis?

There are various tests to diagnosis bronchiolitis

  • Blood gases
  • Chest x-ray
  • Culture of a sample of nasal fluid to determine the virus causing the disease

What are some common lines of treatment?

The main focus of treatment is to relieve symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing.

At home, measures that can be taken to get relief from the symptoms are:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Breast milk or formula  is okay for children younger than 12 months.
  • Get plenty of rest.


Since these viruses are commonly present in the environment, it is very difficult to prevent these infections.

Careful hand washing can help prevent the infections to occur

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