Learn More About COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing & Vaccinations. LEARN MORE

RSV Education and Tips from Emily Spanier, PA-C

RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus is an infection caused by a virus. It is spread by droplets in the air from infected people (talking, coughing, sneezing, crying, etc). While RSV in adults is usually a mild illness, it can be more serious in babies and children who have chronic illnesses. This is because RSV causes a lot of nasal congestion. As an adult, we can breathe through our mouths when our noses are stuffed. Children under the age of 2, especially infants, are not able to do that. This means that when their noses are stuffed up, they have trouble breathing. This is why it is SO important to be suctioning out their noses when they are ill.

Symptoms may include increased nasal congestion, cough, sneezing, increased irritability, decreased feeding or coughing during feeds, vomiting due to coughing, and fevers.

Symptoms can last up to 10 days. The peak of illness (aka the worst days) are usually day 5 and 6 and then patients start to get better after that.

The most important treatment is nasal suctioning! Frequent suctioning is the #1 treatment for babies with RSV! Use something like a Nose Frieda or BabyVac to suction your baby at least before every feeding and before sleeping. You can suction more frequently to help clear secretions. There is no medication that can treat RSV as it is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat fever.

How to stop the spread:

• Wash hands often. Before and after touching your baby, especially after suctioning

• Stay away from sick people or have them wear a mask around your baby if contact can’t be avoided

• Don’t let other people kiss your baby. This may sound mean but you are protecting your baby!

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or using your arm, then wash your hands/arm

When to seek medical attention:

– If your baby has blue lips or looks gray/blue

– If you are worried that your baby is having trouble breathing (sucking in under ribs, between ribs, or by their collarbones with each breath). You can try suctioning first to see if this fixes it but if things don’t improve, your baby should be seen by a medical provider

– If your baby is not drinking fluids at all and/or not making wet diapers for >12 hours

– If your baby has a fever > 103F that won’t come down with medicine

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.