Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

Childhood illnesses: Bronchiolitis

Advice for parents and carers of children aged 2 years old and under.

What is bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is when the smallest air passages in a child’s lungs become swollen. This can make it more difficult for your child to breathe.

Bronchiolitis commonly affects babies and younger children, it is usually caused by a virus called respiratory syncytial virus (known as RSV).

Almost all children will have had an infection caused by RSV by the time they are two years old. It is most common in the winter months and usually only causes mild “cold-like” symptoms. Most children get better on their own.

Some children however, especially very young ones, can have more severe symptoms including difficulty with breathing or feeding and may need treatment in hospital.

Most children with bronchiolitis get better within about two weeks. The cough may go on for a few more weeks.