Most cases of mild bronchiolitis resolve in one week without treatment. Treatment for severe bronchiolitis requires admission to the hospital for oxygen therapy and chest physical therapy. In rare cases, a child with bronchiolitis may require mechanical ventilation. Although additional medications have not proven to be helpful, bronchodilator medications may reduce short episodes of wheezing. Antiviral medications may reduce the risk for worsening bronchiolitis in infants, especially in those who have an illness that weakens the immune system, such as HIV infection. Antibiotics may be required to treat bacterial infections, such as otitis media and pneumonia.
Treatment for severe bronchiolitis may include:
- Humidified oxygen therapy
- Chest physical therapy
- Bronchodilator medications:
- Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin, Salbutamol)
- Epinephrine (Adrenalin) or racemic epinephrine (microNefrin)
- Anti-viral medication from bronchiolitis:
- Palivizumab (Synagis)
- Mechanical ventilation:
Bronchiolitis Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of bronchiolitis.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Do I need to lose weight?
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- Will I need physical therapy?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat bronchiolitis:
Continue to Bronchiolitis Home Care
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- Flores G, Horwitz RI: Efficacy of beta2-agonists in bronchiolitis: a reappraisal and meta-analysis. Pediatrics 1997 Aug; 100(2 Pt 1): 233-9. 
- Kellner JD, Ohlsson A, Gadomski AM, Wang EE: Efficacy of bronchodilator therapy in bronchiolitis. A meta-analysis. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996 Nov; 150(11): 1166-72. 
- Lozano JM. Bronchiolitis. Clin Evid. 2004 Dec;(12):370-84. 
- Shay DK, Holman RC, Newman RD, et al: Bronchiolitis-associated hospitalizations among US children, 1980-1996. JAMA 1999 Oct 20; 282(15): 1440-6.