How do I Recognize Bronchitis in Infants?

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  • Written By: Florence J. Tipton
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2018
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Bronchitis in infants is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. To recognize bronchitis in infants, you may need to be mindful of the symptoms of the illness. Close monitoring of infants suspected of having bronchitis is also essential to avoid a chronic progression of the illness. When a medical diagnosis concurs with your suspicions, treating bronchitis in infants may require over-the-counter medication and at-home remedies until the infection is gone.

An inflammation or infection of the bronchial tubes — the connection between the windpipe and lungs that control how oxygen flows — may cause bronchitis. Mucus, a thick liquid substance that builds up in the mucus membranes, forms from the swelling and blocks the bronchial tubes. As a result, oxygen is reduced, causing a persistent cough, fever, and shortness of breath in some infants.

Often, bronchitis is caused by a viral infection such as a cold or flu. This is typically the most common form of bronchitis in infants. In most cases, this form is not life-threatening, but the swelling that occurs can affect an infant’s breathing pattern.

Bacterial infections may also lead to bronchitis in infants. In general, the bacterial form of bronchitis is less common. Exposure to tobacco smoke, chemical irritants, or even dust can infect the lungs and cause a bacterial infection that develops into bronchitis.


If an infant has bronchitis from a viral infection, you may notice a persistent cough where mucus develops after a few days. Most infants may also have a moderate to high fever. Another sign that an infant may have bronchitis is lethargy or crankiness as the difficulty of breathing increases.

A bacterial infection may cause an infant to experience problems in the respiratory system. When infants are exposed to secondhand smoke, most symptoms resemble asthma, a breathing condition that also starts in the lungs. You may notice wheezing or laborious breathing as the lungs are probably blocked from breathing in polluted air.

Severe symptoms that may indicate bronchitis in infants will typically manifest after the illness is left untreated. These may include shallow breathing or an irregular heartbeat. Some infants may stop breathing or have difficulty sleeping. Any of these symptoms may indicate a chronic form of bronchitis which may lead to pneumonia if left untreated.

Treating bronchitis in infants usually depends on the source of the infection. A viral infection is normally not treated with antibiotics. Most pediatricians may recommend rest, plenty of fluids, and the administration of an infant fever-reducing medication. A bacterial infection is often treated with antibiotics. You could also use a humidifier to help clear the breathing passageway that is blocked by a bacterial infection.



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