Viral bronchiolitis for the clinician

J Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Apr;47(4):160-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01735.x.


Viral bronchiolitis is common, and about 98-99% of infants are managed in the home. Because about 95% of infants < 2 years old are infected with respiratory syncytial virus, however, bronchiolitis is the commonest reason for admission to hospital in the first 6 months of life. It is usually a self-limiting condition lasting around a week in previously well children. About 1% of infants are admitted to hospital, and about 10% of hospitalised infants will require admission to the intensive care unit. Respiratory syncytial virus is isolated from about 70% of infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis. The emphasis of hospital treatment is to ensure adequate hydration and oxygenation. Other than supplemental oxygen, little in the way of pharmacological treatment has been demonstrated to alter the course of the illness or the risk of wheezing in the months following bronchiolitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / diagnosis
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / etiology
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / physiopathology
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / prevention & control
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Severity of Illness Index