Patient Care

Bronchiolitis (Children)

What is Bronchiolitis in Children?

Bronchiolitis is an infection of the small airways of the lungs. It is caused by the narrowing of the small airways in the lung (bronchioles). This narrowing may be caused by several viruses, particularly the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). While infants with RSV develop bronchiolitis, older children and adults may just develop cold symptoms. This virus is found in nasal secretions of infected individuals. It is spread by sneezing, coughing, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-eye contact.

What are the signs & symptoms of Bronchiolitis in Children?

Symptoms include:

  • Wheezing - a high-pitched whistling sound produced when breathing out
  • Rapid breathing with a rate of over 40 breaths per minute
  • Laboured or difficult breathing

The symptoms may worsen over 3 to 5 days before improving. The wheezing may last for more than 7 days and the cough, more than 14 days.

What are the treatment options for Bronchiolitis in Children?

Administer the medicine as prescribed by your doctor to your child. Continue the medicine until your child's wheezing is gone for at least 24 hours. In addition, your child can be given paracetamol every 4 to 6 hours if the fever is over 38oC.

Children with bronchiolitis usually do not need to be hospitalised unless they are very breathless, need oxygen or are not eating or drinking well.

Caring for children with Bronchiolitis?

What can I do for my child at home?

Nasal washes for a blocked nose

If your child's nose is blocked, he or she may not be able to breastfeed or drink from a milk bottle. Place 3 drops of saline in each nostril. After about 1 minute, use a soft rubber suction bulb to suck out the mucus. You can repeat this several times until your child's breathing through the nose becomes quiet and easy.


Encourage your child to drink adequate fluids. Feeding is often tiring so offer your child formula or breast milk in smaller amounts at more frequent intervals. If your child vomits during a coughing spasm, you may feed the child again.

Do not smoke

Tobacco smoke aggravates coughing. The incidence of prolonged wheezing increases greatly in children who have an RSV infection and are exposed to passive smoking. Do not let anyone smoke around your child, especially in your home.

Bring your child to the Children's Emergency immediately if:

  • Your child's breathing becomes laboured or difficult
  • Your child's breathing is faster than 40 breaths per minute when he or she is not crying
  • Your child is lethargic, refuses to eat or drink, is irritable or unusually restless
Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

You can search by -
  • Condition name 'Bronchiolitis (Children)' AND
  • Institution
1E Kent Ridge Road, NUHS Tower Block, Singapore 119228
Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top