Skip to Content

Acute Bronchitis in Children


Acute bronchitis is swelling and irritation in the air passages of your child's lungs. This irritation may cause him to cough or have other breathing problems. Acute bronchitis often starts because of another illness, such as a cold or the flu. The illness spreads from your child's nose and throat to his windpipe and airways. Bronchitis is often called a chest cold. Acute bronchitis lasts about 2 weeks and is usually not a serious illness.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

Your child may need extra oxygen

if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.
  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your child's skin record the electrical activity of his heart.


  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your child's lungs and heart. A chest x-ray may be used to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest wall. It can help caregivers diagnose your child's symptoms, or suggest or monitor treatment for medical conditions.
  • Nose or throat culture: Your child may have his nose or throat gently wiped with a cotton-tipped swab. This will be sent to the lab for tests to learn what may be causing your child's illness. It can also tell what medicines are best to treat the illness.
  • Sputum sample: Sputum (mucus from the lungs) is collected in a cup after your child coughs. The sample is sent to a lab for tests. The sputum may show what germ is causing your child's illness. It can also help healthcare providers choose what medicine is best for your child.


  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are medicines that help decrease your child's fever.
  • Cough medicine: This medicine helps loosen mucus in your child's lungs and make it easier to cough up. This can help him breathe easier.
  • Inhalers: Your child's healthcare provider may give him one or more inhalers to help him breathe easier and cough less. An inhaler gives medicine in a mist form so that your child can breathe it into his lungs.
  • Steroid medicine: Steroid medicine helps open your child's air passages so he can breathe easier.
  • Antiviral medicine: Antiviral medicine may be given to fight an infection caused by a virus.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.


  • Postural drainage: Postural drainage helps loosen the mucus in your child's lungs. Your child may need lung medicine (such as an inhaler or a breathing treatment) before postural drainage is done. Then, a healthcare provider will lay your child in different positions. This helps the mucus drain into the upper part of your child's lungs. A healthcare provider may also tap on your child's chest and back with his hands or rubber cups. Your child may then be able to cough up the mucus and spit it out. If your child cannot cough up the mucus, a healthcare provider may need to suction it out.
  • Suction: Healthcare providers use suction to help get mucus out of your child's mouth, nose, and lungs. This can help your child breathe easier. A small, flexible tube may be put into your child's mouth or nose and into the lungs. Saline drops may be used to loosen some of the mucus. A healthcare provider slowly removes the tube, suctioning mucus out as the tube is removed. Your child's lungs may need to be suctioned more than once to make sure all of the mucus is out.


Your child's bronchitis may turn into a serious infection, such as pneumonia. The chance of his bronchitis becoming a serious illness is increased if he has other health problems. A child who has many respiratory (breathing) illnesses over a period of time may develop permanent lung problems.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Acute Bronchitis in Children (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex