RESEARCH ARTICLE


Treatment of Acute Viral Bronchiolitis



Ernst Eber*
Respiratory and Allergic Disease Division, Pediatric Department, Medical University of Graz, Austria


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© Ernst Eber; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Klinische Abteilung für Pulmonologie und Allergologie, Univ.-Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendheilkunde, Auenbruggerplatz 34, 8036 Graz, Österreich; Tel: +43 316 385 12620; Fax: +43 316 385 14621; E-mail: ernst.eber@medunigraz.at


Abstract

Acute viral bronchiolitis represents the most common lower respiratory tract infection in infants and young children and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Respiratory syncytial virus is the most frequently identified virus, but many other viruses may also cause acute bronchiolitis. There is no common definition of acute viral bronchiolitis used internationally, and this may explain part of the confusion in the literature. Most children with bronchiolitis have a self limiting mild disease and can be safely managed at home with careful attention to feeding and respiratory status. Criteria for referral and admission vary between hospitals as do clinical practice in the management of acute viral bronchiolitis, and there is confusion and lack of evidence over the best treatment for this condition. Supportive care, including administration of oxygen and fluids, is the cornerstone of current treatment. The majority of infants and children with bronchiolitis do not require specific measures. Bronchodilators should not be routinely used in the management of acute viral bronchiolitis, but may be effective in some patients. Most of the commonly used management modalities have not been shown to have a clear beneficial effect on the course of the disease. For example, inhaled and systemic corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists, immunoglobulins and monoclonal antibodies, antibiotics, antiviral therapy, and chest physiotherapy should not be used routinely in the management of bronchiolitis. The potential effect of hypertonic saline on the course of the acute disease is promising, but further studies are required. In critically ill children with bronchiolitis, today there is little justification for the use of surfactant and heliox. Nasal continuous positive airway pressure may be beneficial in children with severe bronchiolitis but a large trial is needed to determine its value. Finally, very little is known on the effect of the various interventions on the development of post-bronchiolitic wheeze.

Keywords: Viral bronchiolitis, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, ribavirin, hypertonic saline.