Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may not be able to shorten the duration of a respiratory syncytial virus infection, but you can try to relieve some signs and symptoms.

If your child has the infection, do your best to comfort or distract him or her — cuddle, read a book or play a quiet game. Other tips for relieving symptoms include:

  • Create moist air to breathe. Keep your room or your child's room warm but not overheated. If the air is dry, a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. An ideal indoor humidity is around 50 percent.
  • Sit in an upright position. Sitting upright makes breathing easier. Placing your infant in a car seat may help. When sleeping, place your infant on his or her back on a firm mattress as usual, but elevate the head of the mattress about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) with an object underneath the mattress.
  • Drink fluids. Keep a steady supply of cool water at the bedside, and offer warm fluids, such as soup, which may help loosen thickened secretions. Ice pops may be soothing as well. Continue breast-feeding or bottle-feeding your infant as you would normally.
  • Try saline nasal drops. Over-the-counter (OTC) drops are a safe, effective way to ease congestion, even for young children. Drip several drops into one nostril to loosen hardened mucus, then immediately suction that nostril, using a bulb syringe. Repeat the process in the other nostril. Do this before feedings and before putting your baby down to sleep.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers. OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help reduce fever, relieve a sore throat and improve ability to drink fluids. Check with your doctor about age-appropriate use and doses of such medications. Don't use them to suppress low-grade fevers under 100.9 F (38.3 C).
  • Eliminate exposure to cigarette smoke. Stay away from cigarette smoke because it can aggravate symptoms.
Jul. 29, 2011