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Bronchiolitis Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

What you need to know as a parent of an infant with bronchiolitis.

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


This cheat sheet is intended only as an inform­ative aid for parents of children with bronch­iol­itis.
It should not be used for diagnosis and does not provide medical advice.
If in any doubt about the health of your child, please seek profes­sional medical assist­ance.

What is Bronch­iol­itis?

Bronch­iolitis is a viral infection of the lungs
It usually occurs in children under 2 and is most common during winter
It can be caused by several viruses, usually RSV but also metapn­eum­ovirus, influenza, parain­flu­enza, corona­virus, adenov­irus, and rhinovirus
Treatment usually consists of support while the child deals with the virus
Usually improves within a week, leaving a residual cough
In 90% of cases it is completely cleared within 2-3 weeks

Signs and Symptoms

Initial symptoms are like a common cold for the first couple of days
Runny nose
Mild cough
Breathing then usually becomes more difficult
Drawing in under the ribcage
head bobbing while breathing
Nostrils flair while breathing
Other symptoms may include
Pale or blueish skin
Poor feeding
Fast feeding
Worsening Cough

How Does Bronch­iolitis Make Breathing Difficult?

The bronch­ioles are some of the smaller airways in the lungs
The viral infection causes an inflam­ation of the bronch­ioles, making it harder to breathe
It also causes sticky mucus to be released, which can also make the bronch­ioles harder to inflate
Adults have larger airways and greater lung strength, so are not affected by the viruses in the same way


The virus is spread to infants by coming into direct contact with nose and throat fluids of someone who has the illness. This can happen when another child or an adult who has a virus:

Sneezes or coughs nearby and tiny droplets in the air are then breathed in by the infant
Touches toys or other objects that are then touched by the infant