Bronchitis is a common lower respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children under 2 years old. It is also known as a chest cold.
Bronchitis is when the large airway passages that go to the lungs become inflamed, usually because of a viral infection, or more rarely a bacterial infection.
If a child has bronchitis and his upper airways are also affected, he might have a runny nose and sore throat as well as a cough. He might have a mild fever too. He might be a bit short of breath and have some wheezing.
Most cases are mild and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks without the need for treatment, although some children have severe symptoms and need hospital treatment.
Typically, the peak time for bronchiolitis is during the winter months.
Bronchiolitis starts out with symptoms similar to those of a common cold but then progresses to coughing, wheezing and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms of bronchiolitis can last for several days to weeks, even a month.
Most children get better with care at home. A very small percentage of children require hospitalization.
For the first few days, the signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis are similar to those of a cold:
After this, there may be a week or more of difficulty breathing or a whistling noise when the child breathes out (wheezing).
Many infants will also have an ear infection (otitis media).
The best treatment for most children with bronchiolitis is rest and plenty of fluids.