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Bronchiolitis is an illness that occurs when a virus infects the smallest airways in your baby’s lungs causing them to become swollen and inflamed. This can make it more difficult for your baby to breathe.
Bronchiolitis is common in the winter months and affects babies under 1 year of age.
Most babies get better on their own, but some, especially very young infants, can develop severe symptoms and may need to be cared for in hospital.
Unfortunately there are no proven medications specifically for bronchiolitis, so whether your baby is at home or in hospital, treatment focusses on supporting your baby with their symptoms until they get better.
Because bronchiolitis is a type of viral infection, your baby may develop symptoms typical of infections, such as fever and feeling unwell.
Supporting your baby’s symptoms at home:
Antibiotics are not usually used in bronchiolitis, as they are ineffective against the viruses that cause it.
If your baby:
You need to see or speak to a nurse or doctor today. Please ring your baby’s GP surgery or call NHS 111.
If your baby:
Your baby needs urgent help. Telephone 999 for an ambulance or go straight to your nearest Emergency Department.
Most babies with bronchiolitis get better within 1 - 2 weeks, although the cough is likely to last for longer than this.
Your baby can go back to nursery or day care as soon as they are well enough (feeding normally with no difficulty in breathing).
There is usually no need to see a doctor if your baby is recovering well, but if you are worried about their progress, contact 111 or talk to their GP.
Get further support from:
Brighton walk-in centre / GP service: Practice Plus
Phone: 0300 130 3333
Open 8am till 8pm on 7 days a week including bank holidays.
For Out of Hours GP Service ring NHS 111
Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital
Phone: 01273 696955 Ext. 2593
Children’s Emergency Department
Please be aware that CED staff will not be able to give you medical advice for your baby over the phone but can direct you to an appropriate service to assist with your enquiry.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: February 2021
Review Date: November 2023