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How to recognise Bronchiolitis

As the autumn season develops into winter, awareness of Bronchiolitis needs to be a daily consideration for anybody dealing with young children. We have spoken to a respiratory specialist so we can provide you with up to date information.

As a qualified respiratory nurse specialist, Gavin specialises in both adults and paediatrics and has a wealth of experience in acute emergency care and long term conditions management. With a combined service of over 11 years as a staff nurse in hospital and as a specialist nurse in doctors surgeries, Gavin has a thorough understanding of how the health system works and the potential problems and complications people face not only as patients but also as key health workers and employers.

Below is the advice Gavin has given to us…….
The early symptoms are similar to those of a common cold and include a runny nose and a cough. As it develops the signs and symptoms can include:

  • a slight fever (raised temperature)
  • a dry and persistent cough
  • difficulty feeding

Symptoms usually improve after three days and in most cases the illness isn’t serious.
Typically most common from November to March, the condition is usually caused by a virus known as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and spread through tiny droplets of liquid from the coughs or sneezes of someone who is infected. This causes the smallest airways in the lungs (the bronchioles) to become infected and inflamed. The inflammation reduces the amount of air entering the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe.
It is estimated that one-third of children in the UK develop Bronchiolitis in their first year of life. The condition is most common in babies between three and six months old. By the age of two, almost all infants have been infected with RSV and 40%-50% will have had Bronchiolitis.
There is no medication to kill the viruses that cause Bronchiolitis, but the infection usually clears up within two weeks without any need for treatment. Most children can be cared for at home in the same way that you’d treat a cold. Make sure that your child gets enough fluid to avoid dehydration and give infants paracetamol or ibuprofen to bring down any temperature. As with any condition though, if you are concerned that your child is deteriorating please don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. Some children do require hospitalization and humidified oxygen to help them breath.


Although it is very difficult to prevent Bronchiolitis, you can take steps to reduce your child’s risk of catching it and help prevent the virus spreading. This includes:

  • washing both your child’s hands and your hands frequently
  • washing or wiping toys and surfaces regularly
  • keeping infected children at home until their symptoms have improved
  • keeping newborn babies away from people with colds or flu
  • preventing your child being exposed to tobacco smoke

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Gavin at Respiratory Awareness UK Ltd via email info@respiratoryawareness.co.uk

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