Cold and flu season is here, and if you have young kids, you’re probably familiar with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a common respiratory virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms. Although it can affect adults, RSV is most common in children, in fact, most children are infected before the age of 2. It’s a highly contagious infection that can spread quickly through schools and childcare centres. Take a look at 6 home remedies for RSV to keep your household as healthy as possible.
What Is RSV?
RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It’s an infection in the lungs and upper respiratory tract and causes symptoms like congestion, sore throat, fever, headache, and other cold-like symptoms. Symptoms are typically mild and treated at home, however, in rare cases, people with RSV need to be hospitalized. Most children are infected by RSV by the age of 2, but they can get infected more than once. Children who attend daycare or who have siblings who attend school are at a higher risk of exposure and reinfection.
RSV is highly contagious and spreads through droplets containing the virus when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also live on surfaces (like countertops and doorknobs) and on hands and clothing. Infections are most common from fall through spring and although in most cases it can be managed at home, there are some severe symptoms that may require a trip to the doctor and it’s important to look out for them.
What Causes RSV?
RSV is a viral infection that targets your respiratory tract. It enters your lungs through your nose and throat and damages or destroys cells in your lower respiratory tract, which leads to RSV symptoms. It spreads quickly through contact with an infected person through their saliva or mucus when they cough, sneeze or talk.
You can also catch the virus by touching an infected object or surface, then touching your nose, eyes or mouth without washing your hands. You’re most likely to spread the virus within the first several days after RSV symptoms occur, and you remain contagious for up to eight days. Babies and young children may spread the virus for three to four weeks.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of RSV?
- Congested nose
- Dry cough (without mucus)
- Sore throat
- Mild fever
In more severe cases, symptoms can be:
- Severe cough
- Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
- Bluish colour of the skin due to lack of oxygen
Symptoms of severe RSV in infants include:
- Short, shallow, rapid breathing
- Struggling to breathe
- Poor feeding
- Unusual tiredness
Can Adults Get RSV?
RSV is most common in children, but it can affect adults. RSV can be dangerous for certain adults, including older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, adults with a weakened immune system, adults with underlying medical conditions, and adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. When an adult gets an RSV infection, they typically have mild cold-like symptoms, but some may develop a lung infection or pneumonia.
When to See a Doctor
Make sure to call your healthcare provider if your child:
- Has a high fever, or gets a fever after having a cold
- Has a cough or other symptoms that get worse
- Is wheezing
- Has laboured or fast breathing
- Shows signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers than usual
- Refuses to breastfeed or bottle feed
Get medical help right away if your child:
- Is struggling to catch their breath
- Is very drowsy
- Has lips of fingernails that look blue
6 Home Remedies for RSV
1. Lots of Fluids
It’s important to prevent dehydration, so make sure your child is drinking lots of fluids. Water is always best, and you can also add ingredients like honey, ginger, or lemon to add taste and help with symptoms. Your body uses energy to fight the infection and water is lost in the process. Hydrating replaces the water so your body can keep fighting bugs and healing. Fluids also help thin your mucus and keep it moving, easing congestion. Be careful not to give honey to children under the age of 12 months.
Honey is super soothing for a sore throat, plus its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties can help stave off secondary infection. Honey can be an effective cough suppressant too, giving you relief, especially when you’re trying to sleep. Tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey will temporarily coat and soothe the throat. Just make sure not to give honey to children under 12 months.
3. Use a Humidifier
It’s also important that the air in your home isn’t too dry. This is where a humidifier can come in handy. Moist air keeps mucus from drying up, so it’s easier to flush out by blowing your nose. It helps by soothing the tissue in your nose and throat, and can help relieve symptoms like an itchy throat and runny nose. Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly as mold and bacteria can build up in the machine and cause lung inflammation.
4. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is an excellent source of fluid and electrolytes. The warm, salty broth helps soothe a sore throat (like gargling warm salt water). Chicken soup filled with veggies like carrots, as well as garlic and ginger, has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that help mitigate upper respiratory infections like RSV by strengthening your immune system and helping your body fight the virus.
5. Manage a Fever
To help reduce a fever, be sure to maintain a comfortable room temperature. Use blankets if your child is cold or has shivers, and offer cold packs when they’re feeling hot. A fever will typically break on its own, but you can also use over-the-counter fever reducers and pain medication to help manage the fever and reduce body aches.
6. Try a Neti Pot
Neti pots can be effective for viral respiratory infections. A neti pot is a small tea pot or bottle used to rinse out nasal passages. They’re safe when used with proper precautions and are recommended for those 2 years old and older. It involves pouring water into one nostril, with your head tilted, and it flows out the other. Make sure you boil the water and let it cool before using it. It takes time to get used to but can really help with congestion.
If you’re dealing with RSV in your household, try these remedies to soothe symptoms and feel better faster!
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you find these home remedies for RSV helpful? We’d love it if you shared this post on Pinterest!
Looking for more health tips and remedies? Make sure to follow our Health Board on Pinterest!