Complications of severe bronchiolitis may include:
- Cyanosis, a condition in which the skin appears blue or ashen, especially the lips, caused by lack of oxygen.
- In the youngest infants, acute bronchiolitis can sometimes cause long pauses in breathing (apnea).
- Fatigue and respiratory failure.
If these occur, your child may need hospitalization. Severe respiratory failure may require that a tube be inserted into the trachea to help the child's breathing until the infection has run its course.
If your infant was born prematurely, has a heart or lung condition, or has a compromised immune system, watch closely for beginning signs of bronchiolitis. The infection may rapidly become severe, and signs and symptoms of the underlying condition may become worse. In such cases, your child will usually need hospitalization.
RSV can also cause pneumonia. Sometimes a second infection, such as bacterial pneumonia, can occur at the same time, but this is not common. Reinfections with RSV after the initial episode may occur but typically aren't as severe.
May 07, 2013
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- Piedra PA. Bronchiolitis in infants and children: Treatment; outcome; and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 13, 2013.
- Fitzgerald DA. Viral bronchiolitis for the clinician. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health. 2011;47:160.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Diagnosis and Management of Bronchiolitis. Pediatrics. 2006;118:1774.
- Pianosi PT. (Expert opinion.) Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 5, 2013.