Cork Emergency Departments
What is it?
Bronchiolitis is a common chest infection, especially affecting infants <12 months age. It is caused by a viral infection in the lungs. It causes swelling and mucous build up in the small airways of the lungs, making it difficult for your baby to breathe and feed.
It begins as a cold: sneezing, runny or blocked nose and cough. Here are some other things you look for:
- Fast breathing
- Noisy or wheezy breathing
- Reduced feeding
- Tummy and chest sucking in
Symptoms are worst on day 3-5 of the illness and may last up to 10 days. Coughing can continue up to 4 weeks.Print version
Bronchiolitis is diagnosed by the symptoms and examination. Blood tests, chest x‐rays and nose swabs are not usually needed.
- Most babies do not need to be admitted to hospital and will recover at home
- Babies are admitted to hospital if they need oxygen or are dehydrated
- Medicines such as steroids, nebulisers, inhalers or antibiotics do not help
Care at home
- Give breastfeeds or smaller formula feeds more frequently. This provides an adequate feed without tiring your baby
- Saline nose drops can assist in clearing a blocked nose. This is best done before feeds
- The virus is contagious for the first few days
- Your child can return to crèche once symptoms have resolved or after 1 week
Red flags: Seek urgent medical attention if:
- Your baby is feeding less than half the usual amount with reduced wet nappies
- Your baby's breathing difficulties are worsening
- Your baby becomes pale, limp or blue