What is Bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is a common lung infection in young children and infants. It causes congestion in the small airways (bronchioles) of the lung. Typically, the peak time for bronchiolitis is during the winter months. It is caused by a virus. Symptoms may include runny nose, cough, and fever. Some children may develop difficulty breathing exhibiting shortness of breath, rapid and labored breathing and wheezing. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately. Bronchiolitis is contagious. An individual can contract the virus through the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can also contract bronchiolitis by touching shared objects and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

A common cause of bronchiolitis is Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV. RSV is so common that most children have been infected with the virus by age 2. Respiratory syncytial virus can also infect adults. Antibiotics are not given to a child with RSV because it is a virus and antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. The majority of cases of bronchiolitis can be cared for at home with supportive care. Make sure your child is getting enough liquids. Consider saline nose drops or suctioning with a bulb to relieve nasal congestion. Be alert for changes in breathing difficulty. The condition may last for a week up to a month.

Like with all respiratory infections, if your child has any trouble breathing, they should be examined immediately.

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