Treatment for respiratory syncytial virus generally involves self-care measures to make your child more comfortable (supportive care). But in severe cases, hospital care may be needed.
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) to reduce fever. He or she may also prescribe an antibiotic if there's a bacterial complication, such as bacterial pneumonia.
Otherwise, keep your child as comfortable as possible. Offer plenty of fluids and watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, little to no urine output, sunken eyes and extreme fussiness or sleepiness.
Hospital care for RSV in severe cases may be necessary to provide intravenous (IV) fluids and humidified oxygen. Hospitalized infants and children may also be hooked up to mechanical ventilation — a breathing machine — to ease breathing.
In some severe cases, a nebulized bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin) may be used to relieve wheezing. This medication opens air passages in the lungs. Nebulized means it's administered as a fine mist that you breathe in. Occasionally, a nebulized form of ribavirin (Rebetol), an antiviral agent, may be used. Your doctor may also recommend an injection of epinephrine or a form of epinephrine that can be inhaled through a nebulizer (racemic epinephrine) to relieve symptoms of RSV infection.
Jul. 29, 2011
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Pickering LK, et al. Red Book Online. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/3.110. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Peters TR, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Long SS, et al. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/143546809-2/0/1679/229.html?tocnode=55244158&fromURL=229.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06687-0..50228-9_4167. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): Infection and incidence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/infection.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed June 22, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): Transmission and prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html. Accessed June 22, 2011.
- Perez-Yarza EG, et al. The association between respiratory syncytial virus infection and the development of childhood asthma: A systematic review of the literature. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2007;26:733.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Ventre K, et al. Ribavirin for respiratory syncytial virus infection of the lower respiratory tract in infants and young children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007:CD000181.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.