Understanding Bronchiolitis

What is Bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the bronchioles, the small airways in the lungs. It is most common in early infancy. It often occurs due to viral infections, over half of which are caused by the respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.

How Serious is Bronchiolitis?

In children and adults, the infection is usually mild. But it may be severe and is the cause of many hospitalizations. In infants, bronchioles are narrower and more easily blocked by mucus and inflammation. Symptoms often are present for 4 to 6 days. Most healthy infants recover in 7 to 10 days.

What Causes Bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis often occurs due to viral infections, over half of which are caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Being exposed to a parent's smoking may be a risk factor for bronchiolitis. The illness is more common in the fall and winter.