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My child has bronchiolitis. How is that treated?

There is no specific treatment for bronchiolitis. Antibiotics are not helpful because they treat illnesses caused by bacteria, not viruses. However, you can try to ease your child's symptoms.

To relieve a stuffy nose

  • Thin the mucus using saline nose drops recommended by your child's doctor. Never use nonprescription nose drops that contain any medicine.
  • Clear your baby's nose with a suction bulb. Squeeze the bulb first. Gently put the rubber tip into one nostril, and slowly release the bulb. This suction will draw the clogged mucus out of the nose. This works best when your baby is younger than 6 months.

To relieve fever

  • Give your baby acetaminophen. (Follow the recommended dosage for your child's age.) Do not give your baby aspirin because it has been associated with Reye syndrome, a disease that affects the liver and brain. Check with your child's doctor first before giving any other cold medicines.

To prevent dehydration

  • Make sure your baby drinks lots of fluid. She may want clear liquids rather than milk or formula. She may feed more slowly or not feel like eating because she is having trouble breathing.

How will your pediatrician treat bronchiolitis?

If your baby is having mild to moderate trouble breathing, your child's doctor may try using a drug that opens up the breathing tubes. This may help some infants.

Some children with bronchiolitis need to be treated in a hospital for breathing problems or dehydration. Breathing problems may need to be treated with oxygen and medicine. Dehydration is treated with a special liquid diet or intravenous (IV) fluids.

In very rare cases when these treatments aren't working, an infant might have to be put on a respirator. This usually is only temporary until the infection is gone.

How can you prevent your baby from getting bronchiolitis?

The best steps you can follow to reduce the risk that your baby becomes infected with RSV or other viruses that can cause bronchiolitis include

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands before touching your baby.
  • Keep your baby away from anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils and drinking cups with anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.

If you have questions about the treatment of bronchiolitis, call your child's doctor.


Last Updated
Bronchiolitis and Your Young Child (Copyright ┬ę 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 10/2011)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.