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Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Respiratory Conditions > Bronchiolitis


About The Condition   Causes   Signs And Symptoms
Diagnosis And Treatment Options   Tips


What Is Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is an infection of the small airways of the lungs.


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Causes Of Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is caused by the narrowing of the small airways in the lung (bronchioles). This narrowing may be caused by several viruses, particularly the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). While infants with RSV develop bronchiolitis, older children and adults may just develop cold symptoms. This virus is found in nasal secretions of infected individuals. It is spread by sneezing, coughing, hand-to-nose or hand-to-eye contact.


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Signs And Symptoms Of Bronchiolitis


  • Wheezing: a high-pitched whistling sound produced when breathing out.
  • Rapid breathing with a rate of over 40 breaths per minute.
  • Laboured or difficult breathing.


The symptoms may worsen over 3 to 5 days before improving. The wheezing may last for more than 7 days and the cough, more than 14 days.


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Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Bronchiolitis

Administer the medicine as prescribed by your doctor to your child. Continue the medicine until your child's wheezing is gone for at least 24 hours. In addition, your child can be given paracetamol every 4 to 6 hours if the fever is over 38°C.


Children with bronchiolitis usually do not need to be hospitalised unless they are very breathless, need oxygen or are not eating or drinking well.


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Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Bronchiolitis

What can I do for my child at home?

  • Nasal washes for a blocked nose

    If your child's nose is blocked, he or she may not be able to breastfeed or drink from a milk bottle. Place 3 drops of saline in each nostril. After about 1 minute, use a soft rubber suction bulb to suck out the mucus. You can repeat this several times until your child's breathing through the nose becomes quiet and easy.

  • Feeding

    Encourage your child to drink adequate fluids. Feeding is often tiring so offer your child formula or breast milk in smaller amounts at more frequent intervals. If your child vomits during a coughing spasm, you may feed the child again.

  • No Smoking

    Tobacco smoke aggravates coughing. The incidence of prolonged wheezing increases greatly in children who have an RSV infection and are exposed to passive smoking. Do not let anyone smoke around your child, especially in your home.


Bring your child to the Children's Emergency immediately if:

  • Your child's breathing becomes laboured or difficult.
  • Your child's breathing is faster than 40 breaths per minute when he or she is not crying.
  • Your child is lethargic, refuses to eat or drink, is irritable or unusually restless

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Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians specialising in pulmonary and sleep, asthma nurses, respiratory therapists, lung function laboratory personnel and sleep laboratory technicians. We provide a comprehensive service for the diagnosis and management for all common and complex respiratory and sleep disorders in infants, children and teenagers.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Paediatric Pulmonary and Sleep.


The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.