How Dangerous is RSV for Children?


Respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV, can very easily be confused for a cold. If a child wakes up in the night with a cough, fever, stuffy nose and crankiness, it’s not unusual for a parent to diagnose this as just another cold. However, an estimated 57,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized annually due to an RSV infection, making it imperative you know the difference between RSV and the common cold.


For most infants and children, RSV will do no more than produce symptoms of the common cold. But for very young infants, children with chronic lung or heart disease, children with a weakened immune system and children with neuromuscular disorders, RSV can turn into bronchiolitis or even pneumonia.


It’s crucial to catch RSV symptoms as early as possible in an effort to minimize effects. Early symptoms of RSV include runny nose, decrease in appetite and a cough that could lead to wheezing.



If your child has contracted RSV, there are a few things you can do to help him or her recover quickly. Make sure your child is staying hydrated first and foremost. Have your child blow their nose regularly and give him or her pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen when needed. (It’s important you don’t give your child aspirin as it’s been linked to several different diseases.) If your child is unable to blow his or her nose, the most effective treatment is a nasal saline irrigation and suction. Finally, a cool-mist vaporizer can help your child breathe better during the dry winter months.


If your child is at a heightened risk for RSV, there are a few things you can do to keep him or healthy, especially during the fall, winter and early spring when RSV is most common.

  • Have your child wash his or her hands regularly. Proper hand washing lasts 20 seconds and includes warm water and soap.
  • Avoid being in close contact with sick people. RSV is extremely contagious, so telling your child to not share utensils or eat after other children is very important.
  • Clean all surfaces in your home regularly. This includes objects that are touched regularly such as toys, doorknobs, etc.


If you believe your child is suffering from RSV, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.


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