Treatment

Treatment for respiratory syncytial virus generally involves self-care measures to make your child more comfortable (supportive care). But hospital care may be needed if severe symptoms occur.

Supportive care

Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to reduce fever. Frequent use of nasal saline drops and suctioning can help clear a stuffy nose. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if there's a bacterial complication, such as bacterial pneumonia.

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

If the RSV infection is severe, a hospital stay may be necessary. Treatments at the hospital may include:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Humidified oxygen
  • Mechanical ventilation (breathing machine)

The doctor may recommend an inhaled form of an antiviral medicine called ribavirin (Virazole) for people with very weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).

An inhaler (bronchodilator) or steroids are not proved to be helpful in treating RSV infection.

July 22, 2017
References
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  4. AskMayoExpert. Respiratory syncytial virus: Initial evaluation. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
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  6. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) — Treatment. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/rsv/understanding/Pages/treatment.aspx. Accessed June 27, 2017.
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  9. RSV prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/prevention.html. Accessed June 26, 2017.
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  12. Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 30, 2017.
  13. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2017.
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  16. Baughn JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 11, 2017