Bronchiolitis in babies: key viral symptoms and treatments

With winter fast approaching, hospital paediatric wards will be gearing themselves up for this year's surge in bronchiolitis. This trend happens every autumn and winter.

Who is commonly affected by bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is an acute illness that almost exclusively affects children under the age of two. Most babies affected are three to six months of age. The name bronchiolitis literally means inflammation of the small airways. Because babies have smaller airways, the mucus and swelling of the airways affects them more than in older children and adults.

Bronchiolitis is almost always due to a viral infection, usually respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In older children and adults, this virus usually only causes a cold or cough, but in babies it can cause bronchiolitis.

Symptoms usually start with cold-like symptoms then progress in the following way:

  • Cold-like symptoms (medically known as coryza)
  • A temperature, usually only slightly elevated
  • A dry cough
  • Noisy, rapid breathing.


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