Bronchiolitis : Treatment

Treatment

Sometimes, no treatment is necessary.

Supportive therapy can include:

  • Chest clapping
  • Drinking enough fluids. Breast milk or formula are okay for children younger than 12 months. Offer warm lemonade or apple juice if your child is over 4 months.
  • Breathing moist (wet) air helps loosen the sticky mucus that may be choking your child. You can use a humidifier to moisten the air your child is breathing. Follow the directions that come with the humidifier.
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Do not let anyone smoke in the house, car, or anywhere near your child.

Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections. Most medications have little effect on bronchiolitis. Children in the hospital may need oxygen therapy and fluids given through a vein (IV) to stay hydrated.

In extremely ill children, antiviral medications (such as ribavirin) are used in rare cases.

Prognosis (Expectations)

Usually, the symptoms get better within a week, and breathing difficulty usually improves by the third day. The mortality rate is less than 1%.

Complications

  • Airway disease, including asthma, later in life
  • Respiratory failure
  • Additional infection, such as pneumonia

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider immediately, or go to the emergency room if the child with bronchiolitis:

  • Becomes lethargic
  • Develops a bluish color in the skin, nails, or lips
  • Develops rapid, shallow breathing
  • Has a cold that suddenly worsens
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Flares nostrils or retracts chest muscles in an effort to breathe


Review Date : 11/2/2009
Reviewed By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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