- Your child has been diagnosed with bronchiolitis
- It's an infection of the smallest airways in the lungs
- Caused by a virus called RSV (respiratory syncytial virus)
- Wheezing during the first 2 years of life is often caused by bronchiolitis
- You wonder if your child needs to be seen again
Symptoms of Bronchiolitis
- Wheezing is the main symptom that helps with diagnosis. Wheezing is a high-pitched purring or whistling sound.
- You can hear it best when your child is breathing out.
- Rapid breathing at a rate of over 40 breaths per minute.
- Tight breathing (having to work hard to push air out).
- Coughing (may cough up very sticky mucus).
- Fever and a runny nose often start before the breathing problems.
- The average age for getting bronchiolitis is 6 months (range: birth to 2 years).
- Symptoms are like asthma.
- About 30% of children with bronchiolitis later do develop asthma. This is more likely if they have close family members with asthma. Also likely if they have bronchiolitis more than 2 times.
Cause of Bronchiolitis
- A narrowing of the smallest airways in the lung (bronchioles) causes wheezing. This narrowing results from swelling caused by a virus.
- The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes most bronchiolitis. RSV occurs in epidemics almost every winter.
- People do not develop life-long immunity to the RSV virus. This means they can be infected many times.
Trouble Breathing: How to Tell
Trouble breathing is a reason to see a doctor right away. Respiratory distress is the medical name for trouble breathing. Here are symptoms to worry about:
- Struggling for each breath or short of breath.
- Tight breathing so that your child can barely speak or cry.
- Ribs are pulling in with each breath (called retractions).
- Breathing has become noisy (such as wheezes).
- Breathing is much faster than normal.
- Lips or face turn a blue color.
Diagnosis of Bronchiolitis
- A doctor can diagnose bronchiolitis by listening to the chest with a stethoscope.
Prevention of Spread to Others
- Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often. After coughing or sneezing are important times.