What is it?

Bronchiolitis is a common respiratory illness in children under the age of 3. It is caused by a virus that makes the small airways in the lungs inflamed which makes it harder for your child to breathe. It is common in infants and young children because the airways are much smaller than those of an older child or adult. One virus that causes bronchiolitis is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which is seen most commonly October through March. Bronchiolitis starts out with cold symptoms such as a runny nose, low grade fever and a cough. The cough may then will get worse over the next few days and you may notice that your child is breathing faster than normal or even wheezing. Bronchiolitis is easily spread through coughing, sneezing and touching surfaces that a sick child has touched.


What can I do?

Some cases of bronchiolitis can be treated at home, but most cases need to be seen in the office. If your child has a runny nose, cough and low grade fever and is not having any trouble breathing offer your child lots of fluids and rest. You may use nasal saline drops and bulb suction to help remove excess mucus from your child's nose. Elevate the head of your child's bed or crib and run a cool mist humidifier in their room. Your child may not want to eat as much as usual so offer small amounts of bland food. Keeping surfaces clean and washing your hands and your child's hands can help decrease the spread of the virus. Also teach your child not to share cups, bottles and utensils with others.


When do I call the office?

  • Please call the office immediately at any time if:
    • Your child is having any difficulty breathing or your child's nostrils are getting wider while taking a breath, the skin between your child's ribs is pulling in while breathing (retractions), any wheezing (a high pitched whistling noise when your child breathes out) is heard or your child is breathing much more quickly than normal
    • Your child's lips or nails look blue
    • Your child is not drinking liquids
    • You child is under 4 months old and has a fever
  • Please call the office during normal hours if

    • Your child's cough lasts for more than 1 week
    • You child has ear pain
    • The fever lasts for more than 3 days