Bronchiolitis or Bronchitis in Children | Kids Clinic Singapore


Dr Dave Ong: 1-9 Dec & 27 Dec

Dr Wendy: 6-7 Dec

Dr Chua on Maternity Leave: 21 Oct 2020 - 28 Feb 2021

Last updated: 24 November

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What is Bronchiolitis/Bronchitis?

Bronchiolitis or bronchitis is an infection of the respiratory tract or airways leading to the lungs. While bronchiolitis is common in young children below the age of 1, bronchitis presents more in older children and adults.

What Causes Bronchiolitis/Bronchitis?

Bronchiolitis is caused by viruses similar to those in a common cold. These viruses replicate quickly, spreading to respiratory tract and threatening the young child’s immune system.

Acute bronchitis is typically caused by viruses similar to those that cause colds and flu. It can also be caused by a bacterial infection and exposure to other substances that aggravate the lungs (e.g. allergens like smoke, dust, fumes, vapours, air pollution).

Does My Child have Bronchiolitis/Bronchitis?

Bronchiolitis and bronchitis usually start out with signs and symptoms similar to those of a common cold but quickly escalates to coughing and wheezing.

Look out for symptoms such as:
  • Persistent coughing, mucus may be present
  • Wheezing
  • Crackling sounds heard when inhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sunken appearance over ribs when inhaling

How do I Care for a Child with Bronchiolitis/Bronchitis?

Your paediatrician will usually not prescribe antibiotics as this condition is typically caused by a virus. The treatment prescribed will primarily be for symptom relief (e.g. brochodilators, pain relievers). During this period, ensure your child has plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. Keep your home clear of smoke or other pollutants. The signs and symptoms should resolve after 7 to 10 days.
Read more: Managing Your Baby’s Needs (0-6 months)
In the event your child experiences any of the following signs and symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Rejection of any fluid intake
  • Rapid and shallow breathing (more than 40 breaths per minute)
  • Bluish appearance, especially around lips and fingernails
  • Exhaustion from breathing or requiring to sit up in order to breathe
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