During the last 4 years we have seen 13 children with a severe bronchiolitis. The children have had prolonged respiratory illnesses waxing and waning over many months, often requiring oxygen therapy for long periods. The diagnosis is based on a clinical picture similar to acute bronchiolitis, but persisting for months, frequently associated with failure to thrive, coupled with lung function evidence of hyperinflation and airways obstruction but normal static compliance. Confusion with other chronic lung conditions can be clarified by straightforward observations and investigations. We believe that chronic bronchiolitis is fairly common and often misdiagnosed. The short- and medium-term prognosis appears good although small airways disease may persist into adult life.
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