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Bronchiolitis is a respiratory infection in the smallest branches of the lungs, called bronchioles. These small airways can become blocked by mucus and inflammation, making it difficult for children to breathe. Bronchiolitis is the leading cause of hospitalization in children under the age of 1.
Bronchiolitis is caused by a viral infection. In many cases, the condition begins as a common cold. While many viruses can cause bronchiolitis, the most common cause is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The most common symptoms of bronchiolitis are runny nose, cough, fever and wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe).
Children under the age of 2; premature infants; children with immune system, heart or lung problems; and children exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to get bronchiolitis.
You can help reduce your child’s risk for bronchiolitis by breast-feeding, eliminating any exposure to tobacco smoke, cleaning shared surfaces and toys and ensuring your entire family washes their hands frequently.
Riley at IU Health doctors can often diagnose bronchiolitis with simple tests, including:
Because bronchiolitis is caused by a virus, no one treatment can get rid of the infection. Many children can be treated at home for bronchiolitis. If your child has a severe case of bronchiolitis, he or she will receive supportive care in the hospital. Supportive care may include:
Learn more about bronchiolitis at the trusted websites below:
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