Respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in children

Dustin K. Smith*, Sajeewane Seales, Carol Budzik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Bronchiolitis is a common lower respiratory tract infection in infants and young children, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of this infection. RSV is transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets either directly from an infected person or self-inoculation by contaminated secretions on surfaces. Patients with RSV bronchiolitis usually present with two to four days of upper respiratory tract symptoms such as fever, rhinorrhea, and congestion, followed by lower respiratory tract symptoms such as increasing cough, wheezing, and increased respiratory effort. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its clinical practice guideline for diagnosis and management of RSV bronchiolitis to minimize unnecessary diagnostic testing and interventions. Bronchiolitis remains a clinical diagnosis, and diagnostic testing is not routinely recommended. Treatment of RSV infection is mainly supportive, and modalities such as bronchodilators, epinephrine, corticosteroids, hypertonic saline, and antibiotics are generally not useful. Evidence supports using supplemental oxygen to maintain adequate oxygen saturation; however, continuous pulse oximetry is no longer required. The other mainstay of therapy is intravenous or nasogastric administration of fluids for infants who cannot maintain their hydration status with oral fluid intake. Educating parents on reducing the risk of infection is one of the most important things a physician can do to help prevent RSV infection, especially early in life. Children at risk of severe lower respiratory tract infection should receive immunoprophylaxis with palivizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody, in up to five monthly doses. Prophylaxis guidelines are restricted to infants born before 29 weeks’ gestation, infants with chronic lung disease of prematurity, and infants and children with hemodynamically significant heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Family Physician
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this