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Bronchiolitis is a respiratory infection accompanied by inflammation and œdema in the tiny airways called bronchioles. This infection is usually caused by a virus known as RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Bronchiolitis is frequently observed in newborns or babies not yet one year old. This infection is especially prevalent during the fall and winter.

This infection of the respiratory tract is transmitted by:

  • Nasal discharge, colds or coryza
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Unclean hands, soiled objects

Signs and symptoms

  • The infant has trouble breathing
  • Respiration is slow and wheezing
  • Coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue

La bronchiolite peut mener à certaines complications, dont:

  • Respiratory distress often requiring hospitalisation, especially among infants not yet 3 months old
  • Bronchiolitis may cause asthma.


The treatment varies depending on the symptoms. The illness gradually resolves on its own over a period of 3 to 10 days. The following may be used:

  • Acetaminophen (to alleviate the fever)
  • Antibiotics
  • Occasionally, bronchodilators in syrop or aerosol form
  • Clapping on the thorax (if recommended by the physician) to clear the bronchial tubes.

Did you know that

The Quebec Lung Association offers direct services to the population. For more information, visit our Patient Resources section.