Home
About Us
Our Services
New Patients
Forms & Policies
Medical Resources
   Emergencies
   Medical Conditions
      Abdominal Pain, Recurrent
      Acne
      Acute Ear Infections and Your Child
      Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
      Acute Otitis Media
      Acute Strep Throat
      Addison
      ADHD and Your School-aged Child
      AIDS/HIV
      Allergies in Children
      Anaphylaxis
      Anemia and Your Young Child
      Anesthesia and Your Child
      Ankle Sprain Treatment (Care of the Young Athlete)
      Antibiotics and Your Child
      Anxiety
      Appendicitis
      Asthma
      Asthma and Exercise (Care of the Young Athlete)
      Asthma and Your Child
      Asthma Triggers
      Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
      Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
      Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
      Breast Enlargement, Premature
      Breath-Holding Spells
      Bronchiolitis
      Bronchiolitis and Your Young Child
      Care of the Premature Infant
      Celiac Disease
      Chickenpox
      Chickenpox Immunization
      Chickenpox Vaccine, The
      Coarctation of the Aorta
      Colds
      Common Childhood Infections
      Congenital Hip Dysplasia
      Constipation
      Constipation and Your Child
      Coxsackie A16
      Croup
      Croup and Your Young Child
      Croup: When Your Child Needs Hospital Care
      Crying and Your Baby: How to Calm a Fussy or Colicky Baby
      Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)
      Depression
      Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
      Diabetic Mother, Infant of
      Diaper Rash
      Diarrhea and Dehydration
      Diarrhea, Vomiting, and Water Loss (Dehydration)
      Ear Infection
      Ear Infections
      Eating Disorders
      Eczema
      Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
      Enlarged Lymph Nodes
      Erythema Multiforme
      Eye Problems Related to Headache
      Febrile Seizure
      Febrile Seizures
      Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
      Fever
      Fever and Your Child
      Fifth Disease
      Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
      Flu
      Flu, The
      Food Allergies and Your Child
      Food Born Illnesses
      Fragile X Syndrome
      Gastroenteritis, Viral
      Gastroesophageal Reflux
      Giardiasis
      Guide to Children's Dental Health, A
      Hand Foot and Mouth
      Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease
      Head Lice
      Headache Related to Eye Problems
      Hemangioma
      Hepatitis A
      Hepatitis A Immunization
      Hepatitis B
      Hepatitis B Immunization
      Hepatitis C
      Hib Immunization
      High Blood Pressure
      Hip Dysplasia (Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip)
      HIV/AIDS
      How to Take Your Child's Temperature?
      Hyperactivity
      Hypertension
      Hypothyroidism
      Immunization
      Infant of a Diabetic Mother
      Infectious Mononucleosis
      Influenza Immunization
      Influenza-Seasonal
      Inhaled and Intranasal Corticosteroids and Your Child
      Kawasaki Syndrome
      Language Development in Young Children
      Lead Poisoning
      Leukemia
      Lung Hypoplasia
      Lyme Disease
      Lymphadenopathy
      Measles
      Mental Health
      Middle Ear Fluid and Your Child
      MMR Immunization
      Molluscum Contagiosum
      Mumps
      Obesity in Childhood
      Osgood-Schlatter Disease
      Otitis Media, Acute
      Pneumococcal Conjugate Immunization
      Pneumonia and Your Child
      Polio Immunization
      Premature Thelarche
      Prematurity
      Prematurity, Retinopathy of
      Pulmonary Hypertension
      Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH & SPH)
      Retinopathy of Prematurity
      Rheumatic Fever, Acute
      Ringworm (Tinea)
      Roseola
      Rotavirus
      Rubella (German Measles)
      Safety of Blood Transfusions
      Scabies
      Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 2014–2015
      Separation Anxiety
      Sinusitis
      Sinusitis and Your Child
      Sleep Apnea and Your Child
      Smoking
      Speech Development in Young Children
      Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
      Strep Throat
      Strep Throat-Acute
      Strep Throat-Recurrent
      Stuttering and the Young Child
      Swine Flu
      Swine Flu (H1N1) FAQ
      Swine Flu (H1N1) Vaccine
      Swollen Glands
      Tattoos
      Tear Duct, Blocked
      Tetralogy of Fallot
      Thyroid Problems
      Tinea (ringworm infection)
      Tonsils and the Adenoid
      Toxic Shock Syndrome
      Toxoplasmosis
      Turner Syndrome
      Type 2 Diabetes: Tips for Healthy Living
      Underdeveloped Lungs
      Urinary Tract Infection
      Urinary Tract Infections in Young Children
      Varicella or Chickenpox
      Varivax Immunization
      Vesicoureteral Reflux
      Wheezing-Infant
      Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
      Wilson Disease
   What's Going Around?
   Pediatrics
Contact Us

Practice News

Anywhere Family Practice is thrilled to announce the addition of Dr. Julie Johnson to our team.
We will be transitioning to a new patient portal in April. Watch for new updates on this website!

Is Your Child Sick?TM

 

Are You Sick?



Bronchiolitis and Your Young Child

Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article

Bronchiolitis is a common respiratory illness among infants. One of its symptoms is trouble breathing, which can be scary for parents and young children. Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about bronchiolitis, causes, signs and symptoms, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.

What is bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is an infection that causes the small breathing tubes of the lungs (bronchioles) to swell. This blocks airflow through the lungs, making it hard to breathe. It occurs most often in infants because their airways are smaller and more easily blocked than in older children. Bronchiolitis is not the same as bronchitis, which is an infection of the larger, more central airways that typically causes problems in adults.

What causes bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is caused by one of several respiratory viruses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza, and human metapneumovirus. Other viruses can also cause bronchiolitis.

Infants with RSV infection are more likely to get bronchiolitis with wheezing and difficulty breathing. Most adults and many older children with RSV infection only get a cold. RSV is spread by contact with an infected person's mucus or saliva (respiratory droplets produced during coughing or wheezing). It often spreads through families and child care centers. (See “How can you prevent your baby from getting bronchiolitis?”).

What are the signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis often starts with signs of a cold, such as a runny nose, mild cough, and fever. After 1 or 2 days, the cough may get worse and an infant will begin to breathe faster. Your child may become dehydrated if he cannot comfortably drink fluids.

If your child shows any signs of troubled breathing or dehydration, call your child's doctor.

Signs of troubled breathing

  • He may widen his nostrils and squeeze the muscles under his rib cage to try to get more air into and out of his lungs.

  • When he breathes, he may grunt and tighten his stomach muscles.

  • He will make a high-pitched whistling sound, called a wheeze, when he breathes out.

  • He may have trouble drinking because he may have trouble sucking and swallowing.

  • If it gets very hard for him to breathe, you may notice a bluish tint around his lips and fingertips. This tells you his airways are so blocked that there is not enough oxygen getting into his blood.

Signs of dehydration

  • Drinking less than normal

  • Dry mouth

  • Crying without tears

  • Urinating less often than normal

Bronchiolitis and children with severe chronic illness

Bronchiolitis may cause more severe illness in children who have a chronic illness. If you think your child has bronchiolitis and she has any of the following conditions, call her doctor:

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Congenital heart disease

  • Chronic lung disease (seen in some infants who were on breathing machines or respirators as newborns)

  • Immune deficiency disease (eg, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS])

  • Organ or bone marrow transplant

  • A cancer for which she is receiving chemotherapy

Can bronchiolitis be treated at home?

There is no specific treatment for RSV or other viruses that cause bronchiolitis. Antibiotics are not helpful because they treat illnesses caused by bacteria, not viruses. However, you can try to ease your child's symptoms.

To relieve a stuffy nose

  • Thin the mucus using saline nose drops recommended by your child's doctor. Never use nonprescription nose drops that contain medicine.

  • Clear your baby's nose with a suction bulb.

Squeeze the bulb first. Gently put the rubber tip into one nostril, and slowly release the bulb.

This suction will draw the clogged mucus out of the nose. This works best when your baby is younger than 6 months.

To relieve fever

  • Give your baby acetaminophen. (Follow the recommended dosage for your baby's age.) Do not give your baby aspirin because it has been associated with Reye syndrome, a disease that affects the liver and brain. Check with your child's doctor first before giving any other cold medicines.

To prevent dehydration

  • Make sure your baby drinks lots of fluid. She may want clear liquids rather than milk or formula. She may feed more slowly or not feel like eating because she is having trouble breathing.

How will your child's doctor treat bronchiolitis?

Your child's doctor will evaluate your child and advise you on nasal suctioning, fever control, and observation, as well as when to call back.

Some children with bronchiolitis need to be treated in a hospital for breathing problems or dehydration. Breathing problems may need to be treated with oxygen and medicine. Dehydration is treated with a special liquid diet or intravenous (IV) fluids.

In very rare cases when these treatments aren't working, an infant might have to be put on a respirator. This is usually only temporary until the infection is gone.

How can you prevent your baby from getting bronchiolitis?

The best steps you can follow to reduce the risk that your baby becomes infected with RSV or other viruses that cause bronchiolitis include

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands before touching your baby.

  • Keep your baby away from anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.

  • Avoid sharing eating utensils and drinking cups with anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.

If you have questions about the treatment of bronchiolitis, call your child's doctor.

Copyright © 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 07/2014. All Rights Reserved.