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Lungs & Breathing - Child/Teen

Cough and Wheeze (Bronchiolitis)

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Bronchiolitis is an infection that happens in the bottom part of the lungs and is caused by a virus. The tiny air sacs in the lungs fill with mucous and make it hard for your child to breathe. Bronchiolitis is most common in children under 2 years old and usually occurs between November and April.

Your child doesn’t need antibiotics because bronchiolitis is a virus. The symptoms are like having a cold and your child will cough and wheeze. After 1 to 3 days of cold symptoms, the infection can sometimes spread to the lungs.

If your child shows symptoms of bronchiolitis, you should see a doctor.

You should see a doctor right away if your child:

  • is breathing very fast
  • looks uncomfortable when breathing
  • is having trouble breathing (listen for wheezing)
  • has blue or purple lips
  • is very sleepy and hard to wake up
  • is finding it hard to eat and is becoming dehydrated (dry mouth, no pee, no tears)

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Current as of: March 13, 2017

Author: Health Education and Learning Program (HEAL), Alberta Health Services