Bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the bronchioles (smallest airways in the lungs). It usually affects children under the age of 2 years old. It may cause cold symptoms in older children and adults who are exposed. The most common cause of this condition is a virus infection called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulty and fever. Bronchiolitis is contagious. A nasal swab test may be used to confirm the presence of RSV.

The treatment of bronchiolitis is mostly supportive. This includes:

  • Having your child rest as much as possible.

  • Giving your child plenty of clear liquids (water and fruit juices). If your child is an infant, continue to give regular feedings.

  • Using a cool mist humidifier in your child's room to moisten the air. Do not use hot steam.

  • Using saline nose drops frequently to keep the nose open from secretions. It works better than suctioning with the bulb syringe, which can cause minor bruising inside the child's nose.

  • Keeping your child away from smoke.

  • Avoiding cough and cold medicines for children younger than 6 years of age.

  • Leaning exactly how to give medicine for discomfort or fever. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age.

This condition usually clears up completely in 1 to 2 weeks. See your caregiver if your child is not improving after 2 days of treatment.


  • Your child is older than 3 months with a rectal or oral temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or higher.

  • Your baby is 3 months old or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher.

  • Your child has a hard time breathing.

  • Your child gets too tired to eat or breathe well.

  • Your child gets fussier and will not eat.

  • Your child looks and acts sicker.

  • Your child has bluish lips.