Bronchiolitis and RSV

Bronchiolitis is an infection that causes the tiniest airways in your child’s lungs to become swollen. This can make it more difficult for your child to breathe:

  • Bronchiolitis tends to affect young children (under 2 years of age) is caused by a number of different viral infections. One of the most common viruses that causes bronchiolitis is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
  • Rates of RSV usually peak in winter (November and December). However, due to the social restrictions put in place last year, there were almost no cases of last year. This year, cases have been rising in Wessex since August and are likely to continue rising over the Autumn and winter.
  • Bronchiolitis usually only causes cold like symptoms and mild breathing difficulty - breathing may be faster than normal as well as noisy and they may not be able to take their usual amount of milk by breast or bottle. Your child may get a little worse each day until the 3rd or 4th day of their illness after which they are likely to start improving. However, most children get better on their own; there are no specific medical treatments that speed up recovery from bronchiolitis and many children will continue to cough for a few weeks afterwards.

Some children, especially those under 6 weeks of age or young children with heart or lung problems, can develop significant breathing difficulty and may need to go to hospital for help supporting their breathing and feeding.

Watch a  GP and health visitor talking about what they would look out for in a child with a cough and cold:

Many thanks to ASKSNIFF for providing the clips of abnormal signs.


Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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