Bronchiolitis : Diagnosis

See your GP if your child has symptoms of bronchiolitis. A diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms and an examination of your child's breathing.

Your GP may ask if your child has had a runny nose, cough or high temperature and for how long. This will help confirm whether they have the symptoms of bronchiolitis.

They'll listen to your child's breathing using a stethoscope to check for any crackling or high-pitched wheezing as your child breathes in and out.

If your child has not been feeding very well or has been vomiting, your GP may also look for signs of dehydration.

These include:

  • a dipped fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of the head) in babies
  • a dry mouth and skin
  • drowsiness
  • producing little or no urine

Your GP may recommend that your child is admitted to hospital if they are not feeding properly and are dehydrated, or they're having problems breathing.

Further tests

Further tests for bronchiolitis are not usually necessary. But as some conditions cause similar symptoms to bronchiolitis, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma, tests may be needed.

If it is not clear what's causing your child's symptoms, or your child has signs of severe bronchiolitis, your GP may recommend further tests in hospital to help confirm the diagnosis.

These tests might include:

  • a mucus sample test (where a sample of mucus from your child's nose will be tested to identify the virus causing their bronchiolitis)
  • urine or blood tests
  • a pulse oximeter test (where a small electronic device is clipped to your child's finger or toe to measure the oxygen in their blood)