Home / Treatments And Diseases / Bronchiolitis Symptoms

Bronchiolitis Symptoms

Bronchiolitis is a viral respiratory infection that usually affects infants and small children. The most commonly affected age group is infants about 3 to 6 months old. For parents watching their children deal with the symptoms of bronchiolitis, the disease can be a frightening experience. However, bronchiolitis usually goes away after a week unless there are further health complications for the child. Here are some of the common symptoms of bronchiolitis.


At first, the symptoms of bronchiolitis will be nearly indistinguishable from the common cold. Like many respiratory diseases, bronchiolitis begins with a runny or stuffy nose, possibly a fever, and sore throat. Most bronchiolitis infections are not detected during this stage since it looks so similar to the common cold.

After the first couple of days, the respiratory symptoms of bronchiolitis will begin to occur. Wheezing, labored breathing will start to occur. In particular, the wheezing will occur on the exhalations. This can intensify to quick, shallow breathing that is painful and stressful. These breathing complications can trigger increased heart rates, so feel the chest for rapid heartbeat.

Usually, the infection will go away on its own after seven to ten days. Treat the symptoms to make the child more comfortable. If the infection does not go away, it could develop into a more severe stage. Read the below symptoms to find out when to take your child to the doctor.


Severe bronchiolitis can develop more dangerous symptoms. Vomiting is a sign that the infection is in an advanced stage. The breathing rate could increase to 40 breaths per minute; this rate could be too fast to allow for eating or drinking. If the child must sit straight up to have clear enough air passageways to breathe, you should seek medical attention.

Cyanosis is an extremely severe symptom of bronchiolitis where portions of the skin begin to turn blue. Pay special attention to the areas around fingernails, toenails, and lips. If any blueness occurs, the child is experiencing cyanosis and you will need to seek emergency care immediately.

Dangerous symptoms are most likely to occur in infants under 12 weeks old, infants who were born prematurely, and infants born with lung or heart conditions. If any of the symptoms of bronchiolitis occur in children meeting those criteria, you should seek medical attention as soon as you suspect a bronchiolitis infection.

Each case is different, so if your child is experiencing many of these symptoms, you should see a doctor for a confirmed diagnosis. They may be able to prescribe treatments such as an inhaler or oxygen mask.