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Bronchitis, a lung infection, is usually acquired by infants and young children (ages 2–10 years old). It results in swelling and obstruction of the lung's tiny airways or bronchioles. A virus nearly always causes bronchiolitis. Bronchitis cases are frequently at their peak in the winter.


When bronchiolitis develops, the first cold-like symptoms give way to coughing, wheezing, and occasionally breathing difficulties. Bronchitis symptoms might linger for a few days to a few weeks.


An obstruction of oxygen in your airways brought on by bronchiole inflammation might result in symptoms like coughing or breathing difficulties. Although bronchiolitis often only produces a minor sickness, severe instances can lead to lung failure.


With care at home, most kids recover. Only a small fraction of kids need to be hospitalized.


Causes and Risks:

Viral bronchiolitis has several causes, which are further divided as follows:


  1. Viral bronchiolitis causes: Viruses are tiny creatures that pose a threat to the immune system due to their capacity for rapid reproduction. The following viral infections are often seen in people and can result in bronchiolitis.


  1. Respiratory Syncytial virus (RSV)
  2. Adenoviruses
  3. Influenza virus


  1. Obliterative bronchiolitis causes: Sometimes, this uncommon illness develops for no apparent cause. If severe instances go untreated, they can be fatal. The following causes have been noted:


  • Lung or stem cell transplant complications
  • Smoke from an electronic cigarette
  • Chemical vapours from ammonia, bleach, and chlorine
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Negative effects of drugs


Children under 2 years old are most frequently affected by viral bronchiolitis. There are a few risk factors for viral bronchiolitis in infants and young children which are as follows:

  • Lacking breast milk
  • Being born too soon or having a heart or lung disorder
  • Being immune system-suppressed
  • Being around smoke from cigarettes
  • Being in busy, infected locations, such as childcare facilities.


The following are typical risk factors for adult bronchiolitis:


  • Working circumstances that subject you to risky particles or substances
  • Having undergone bone marrow, heart, or lung transplant
  • Smoking nicotine-containing tobacco
  • Having a connective tissue autoimmune illness




Clinical signs of bronchiolitis, which typically affects infants, are initially modest and include the following:


  • During the 2 to 5-day incubation phase, the infant may become more irritable and have trouble eating.
  • Low-grade fever (often less than 101.5°F); potential hypothermia in infants under one month old.
  • Coryza and congestion are becoming worse
  • Apnea could be the first sign of the disease in its early stages.


In severe instances of bronchiolitis, the following signs and symptoms may develop over the course of 48 hours:


  • Respiratory discomfort accompanied by tachypnoea, flared nose, and retractions
  • Irritability
  • Cyanosis




You can do a few things to lessen the likelihood that your kid may contract bronchiolitis or transfer the viruses that cause it, such as:


  • Clean your hands and the hands of your kids frequently.
  • On a regular basis, clean surfaces, wash toys, or both.
  • Use disposable tissues, and throw them away after using them.
  • Keep young children away from sick people, especially if they are under two months old or were born prematurely.


Smoking should never be done around an infant. Children who inhale cigarette smoke are more likely to get bronchiolitis.




Bronchitis is definitely a condition your doctor is quite familiar with. The length of your child's illness, whether or not your child has a fever, and whether or not your child has been exposed to anybody else who is unwell are among the things that the doctor might want to know.


The healthcare professional will check your child and hear their lungs. The level of oxygen in your child's blood may be determined with a pulse oximeter, a painless electronic instrument that can be applied to fingers or toes.


It is unlikely that more testing will be required. If so, they can entail submitting a sample of mucus for analysis or getting a chest X-ray. If it appears that your child could have a urinary tract infection, your doctor can ask for a urine sample.




The main goal of therapy is to reduce symptoms like wheezing and breathing problems. If a child's breathing issues do not get better after being examined at a clinic or emergency department, they might need to stay in the hospital.


Viral infections are not treated by antibiotics. Children who are really ill may be treated with antiviral medications.


Symptom relief techniques can be employed at home. For instance:

  • Encourage your child to drink a lot of water. Children under 12 months old can drink breast milk or formula without any problems. For an infant, electrolyte beverages like Pedialyte are beneficial.
  • Allowing your youngster to breathe moist air can help the mucus become less gummy. To add moisture to the air, use a humidifier.
  • Give your kid some saline nasal spray. A nasal suction bulb can then be used to treat a stuffy nose.
  • Make sure your youngster gets enough sleep.


Never let someone smoke around your child, in the car, or anywhere else. Breathing difficulties in children may need a hospital stay. There, treatment options might include oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids.


An inflammatory bronchial reaction in infants and young children. Bronchiolitis is almost always the result of a virus. The condition is most common in the winter months.

The illness begins similarly to a common cold. Coughing, wheezing, and sometimes difficulty breathing follow. Symptoms can last anywhere from a week to a month.

In most cases, bronchiolitis can be treated at home. Severe cases necessitate hospitalization.


Dr. Tanay Joshi
Respiratory & Sleep Medicine
Meet The Doctor
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