Bronchiolitis is a very common lung infection in children less than two years old. The infection causes the small breathing tubes of the lungs (bronchioles) to swell. This blocks airflow through the lungs, making it hard to breathe—which can be scary for parents and children. Bronchiolitis is different from bronchitis, which is an infection of the larger, more central airways.

There is no medicine for bronchiolitis. You may make your child feel better by suctioning their nose with saline drops and a bulb syringe. If your doctor says it’s okay, you can treat your child’s pain and fever with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If your child is otherwise healthy, bronchiolitis is not much to worry about. The wheezing cough will usually go away on its own in two to four weeks. Sometimes children with bronchiolitis get worse before they get better.

Bronchiolitis is:

  • An infection of the lungs that causes fever, cough, and wheezing
  • Caused by viruses or germs
  • Very common

Bronchiolitis is not:

  • Asthma
  • Helped by antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, or other medications
  • Diagnosed by blood tests or x-rays

What you can do:

  • Let the illness run its course
  • Treat symptoms
  • Offer shorter, more frequent feedings
  • Wash your hands frequently and well
  • Avoid all tobacco smoke

When to call your doctor:

  • Your child is having a harder time breathing
  • Your child isn’t eating well or having as many wet diapers
  • You have questions or worries

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