What Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and How Does it Affect Your Child?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, is a common virus that produces cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, fever, wheezing, coughing and a decrease in appetite. It’s common among children throughout the cold and flu season, so keep an eye out for symptoms of this potentially serious illness.


For most people, the virus lasts one to two weeks and can be mild. However, it can be much more dangerous for babies and older adults. RSV is the No. 1 cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in kids younger than 1. 


Some possible additional symptoms include difficulty breathing, irritability and decreased energy and movement. 


Care and Treatment


If you notice any of these symptoms, follow standard cold and flu treatment procedures. This means stay hydrated, sanitize the sick area and avoid contact with others, especially infants and elderly people. 


You can also administer over-the-counter medications to help with pain or fever, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. However, it’s always best to stay in contact with your health care provider and get their approval before giving any new medications to your baby.


Though RSV can be dangerous, not every child or adult diagnosed with it needs to be hospitalized. Your healthcare provider can help monitor the severity of the infection and make educated decisions on the best treatment. 


However, if your baby is having trouble breathing or becomes dehydrated, you should take them directly to the hospital. 


Prevention Techniques


Much like influenza, you can work to avoid Respiratory Syncytial Virus by using common prevention standards. 


  • Wash your hands with soap frequently.
  • Cover your mouth every time you sneeze and cough. It’s better to use a tissue than your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face or your child’s.
  • Clean common surfaces, such as doorknobs and handles.
  • Avoid close contact, such as sharing utensils, shaking hands and kissing.


It’s also a good idea to limit the amount of time your child spends in heavily contagious settings such as day care. Also, if your child is sick, do not bring them to social settings. Not only do you risk infecting other small children, but it can also be draining on your child’s energy. They’ll need all their strength to fight the infection. 


Learn More about Respiratory Syncytial Virus


We know that you’ll do your best to keep your family safe this flu season. However, if your child begins to show symptoms of illness, ease your mind by taking them to a trusted pediatric physician. 


Our pediatricians and staff care about the well-being of you and your family. If you have any questions, feel free to call us during our office hours. We’d love to talk with you!