How is bronchiolitis treated?

Because bronchiolitis is caused by a virus, there is no medicine that will treat it once it starts. Some babies may have trouble feeding, and will need to rest and drink little and often. Warm and dry housing is especially important for childhood bronchiolitis as houses that are damp and cold lead to more colds and flu which can aggravate respiratory disease.

Most babies do not require any special medical treatment and will get better by themselves. They can be looked after at home if they are feeding well, do not look sick and are not having problems with breathing.

Most babies can be cared for at home by

  • offering small feeds of breast milk or infant formula
  • keeping your baby warm but not too hot
  • giving your baby as much rest as possible
  • not smoking in the house or around your baby
  • keeping your baby’s nose clear. If it is blocked or crusty you can use saline nose drops (which can be brought from a pharmacy) and this will also help with feeding baby.

Try to stay at home if you can so your baby is not exposed to too many temperature fluctuations

Some need to be admitted to hospital if they have trouble breathing or feeding, or if they are not able to get enough oxygen. If you're concerned, see your doctor and they will

  • talk with you about baby’s symptoms
  • listen to your baby’s breathing
  • check that your baby is drinking enough
  • possibly ask you to bring your baby back in 24 hours to check that your baby is getting better
  • possibly refer your baby to hospital to receive oxygen or fluids

It is very important to seek medical help if:

  • breathing is fast or irregular
  • the child cannot take food or drink
  • the child seems tired, pale or sweaty
  • any signs are worrying you
  • the child does not get better in 3 to 5 days.
  • the child turns blue.

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