A little black baby, a little asian baby and a little white baby, all drawn cartoons, are sat over a sign in white and purple saying "Little lungs need BIG protection". In the background there are geen cartoon hills, a blue sky and pink hearts dotted about.

Bronchiolitis is a common viral infection in Greater Manchester and across the UK. It affects 1 in 3 children under two. It is most widespread during winter (November to March), and it is possible to get it more than once.


At the start, bronchiolitis symptoms are like a cold and include runny nose and a cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • A fever or hot to touch
  • A dry, persistent cough
  • Taking a long time to feed, too tired to feed
  • Dry nappies
  • Wheezing (rasping noise when breathing)

To find out more about the symptoms of bronchiolitis, click here to watch a video

How to treat bronchiolitis

More often than not bronchiolitis is treated at home by:

  • Giving fluids little and often (very young babies tend to become breathless after a large feed)
  • Keeping a baby cool and in a well-aired room
  • Offer infant paracetamol (like Calpol) or Ibuprofen to bring down a temperature. Ibuprofen should be avoided if your child is not drinking adequately

The virus often clears within two weeks without the need for further treatment.

However about 2 to 3% of babies who develop bronchiolitis will need to be admitted to hospital after developing more serious symptoms such as breathing difficulties.

This is more common in premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and those with a heart or lung condition.

5 little steps to prevent bronchiolitis

While bronchiolitis is often difficult to prevent as it’s a virus, there are steps you can take to reduce your little one’s risk of catching and spreading it.

  1. Wash your hands before touching your baby, if anyone has a cold in the house and regularly wash your child’s hands
  2. Wipe toys, doors, handles and surfaces frequently
  3. Keep infected children at home until their symptoms ease
  4. Keep newborn babies away from people with colds or flu
  5. Put tissues in the bin after a single use

You can also help by:

  • Check on your baby regularly, including when they are sleeping – you may want to place them in their cot in your bedroom. Avoid co-sleeping with your baby when they are unwell
  • Give smaller feeds more often, it’s ok to give water as well as milk
  • Help clear your child’s nostrils especially in a very young baby to help them breathe more easily, and especially before feeds
  • Sit your baby up after a feed to help with their breathing and reduce breathlessness
  • Avoid cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke and being around people who smoke, this is an irritant and will make your baby’s symptoms worse

We hope that by raising awareness of bronchiolitis across Greater Manchester, we can help more parents, carers, family members and friends to know what to look out for and when to seek medical help.

To find out more about what to look out for with bronchiolitis, click here to watch a video.

If you are worried about your little one, contact your GP or telephone NHS 111.

Make same day contact with 111 or your GP if: 

  • Feeding less than half their normal intake
  • Paler than normal
  • Less than 2 wet nappies a day
  • If your child is being sick or has been sick
  • High temperature, 38.5 degrees or above or if under 3 months, a temperature above 38 degrees

Seek help urgently from 999 or going to A&E if: 

  • If your child has blueish lips
  • If your child is unresponsive
  • If your child is very irritable
  • If your child is working harder to breathe
  • If your child displays long pauses in breathing (over 10 seconds), take a video of your baby breathing to show to healthcare professionals

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