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What is it?

Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that primarily affects infants less than 1 year old.

It is is more common in winter and is more common in male infants.

Most cases will resolve within a few days.

Since bronchiolitis is casued by a virus, antibiotics will not help.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms are runny nose, progressing to cough, wheezing & rapid breathing. The child may have a fever & have difficulty feeding.

What is the cause?

Bronchiolitis is usually caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus is more prevalent in winter months.


Bronchiolitis is usually a clinical diagnosis made by the GP.

If required, diagnosis of RSV infection can be made by virus isolation, detection of viral antigens, detection of viral RNA, demonstration of a rise in serum antibodies, or a combination of these approaches. Most clinical laboratories use antigen detection assays to diagnose infection.


For children with mild disease, no specific treatment is necessary other than the treatment of symptoms (eg. paracetamol to reduce fever).

Children with severe disease may require oxygen therapy. Mechanical ventilation is rarely required.

If the child is unable to feed &/or is dehydrated, intravenous fluids &/or tube feeding may be required


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