Most cases of respiratory syncytial virus are mild and don't need medical treatment from doctors. Antibiotics aren't used because RSV is a virus and antibiotics work only against bacteria. Sometimes, doctors give medicine to help open airways.
RSV infection can be more serious in babies, though. Some might need treatment in a hospital. There, they can be watched closely and get fluids, if needed, and treatment for any breathing problems.
- Make your child as comfortable as possible.
- Allow time for recovery.
- Provide plenty of fluids. Babies may not feel like drinking, so offer fluids in small amounts often.
Avoid hot-water and steam humidifiers, which can be hazardous and can cause scalding. If you use a cool-mist humidifier, clean it daily with household bleach to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
If your child is uncomfortable and too young to blow his or her own nose, use a nasal aspirator (or bulb syringe) to remove sticky nasal fluids.
Treat fever using a non-aspirin fever medicine like acetaminophen. Aspirin should not be used in children with viral illnesses. Its use has been linked to Reye syndrome, a life-threatening illness.
Call the doctor if your child has:
- a high fever and doesn't look well
- a thick nasal discharge
- a cough that gets worse or produces yellow, green, or gray mucus
- signs of dehydration
Also call the doctor if your infant is very cranky, or refuses to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
Get medical help right away if your child:
- has trouble breathing or is breathing very rapidly
- is very drowsy
- has lips or fingernails that look blue