Bronchiolitis: a common viral infection

Bronchiolitis is a very common infection in young children - occurring mainly in infants and children less than 2 years old. It is caused by viruses that infect the small breathing airways.

"The illness begins as a cold, leading to cough and breathlessness. This may interfere with feeding and sleep," say doctors from KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

Babies with bronchiolitis are usually sick for 3 - 5 days, and then gradually recover over the next 2 - 3 days. The cough itself, however, may persist for 2 - 3 weeks.

Treatment is largely supportive - to relieve any accompanying fever. Ensure that your child has sufficient rest and is fed small amounts at frequent, regular intervals. However, if your child is breathless, then supplementary oxygen therapy in hospital is necessary.

See your doctor if your child exhibits the following symptoms of bronchiolitis:

  1. Seems to be having more trouble with breathing
  2. Is unable to sleep
  3. Is not feeding/taking fluids well
  4. Has pale or grayish skin colour - LATE SIGN!
  5. Is lethargic
  6. Is irritable and hard to calm
  7. Has not wet the diapers in the last 6 - 8 hours and the lips are dry
  8. Has associated high fever

Ref: W09