Bronchioles are small airways in your lungs. Adding "itis" to a word means inflammation. So bronchiolitis is inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. The inflammation makes it hard for children to breathe. Bronchiolitis happens in babies and children under age 2 years.
Several different viruses can cause bronchiolitis. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is the most common cause. Bronchiolitis is most common in winter when viruses spread easily.
Doctors think bronchiolitis may be more common and more serious for babies whose mothers smoke cigarettes, especially if their mothers smoked during pregnancy.
At first, your baby has symptoms of a cold, such as:
The cough may last for 2 to 3 weeks or more.
After 3 to 5 days, your baby may have:
Trouble breathing—a baby or child may take fast breaths and make a high pitched sound when breathing out (wheezing)
Many babies with bronchiolitis have only mild symptoms.
With severe bronchiolitis, your baby or child may have a lot of trouble breathing and symptoms like:
Taking fast, short breaths
Throwing up and getting dehydrated (too little water in the body)
Doctors will have you treat children with mild symptoms at home:
If your child has a lot of trouble breathing, your child may have to be admitted to the hospital. Usually doctors will:
Antibiotics don't help bronchiolitis.