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Respiratory Syncytial Virus


An RSV infection is a condition that causes swelling in your child's lower airway and lungs. The swelling may cause your child to have trouble breathing. The RSV virus is the most common cause of lung infections in infants and young children. An RSV infection can happen at any age, but happens more often in children younger than 2 years. An RSV infection usually lasts 5 to 15 days. RSV infection is most common in the fall and winter. An RSV infection often leads to other lung problems, such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


Your child may be in isolation if he has an infection or disease that he can spread to others. Healthcare providers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands before and after visiting your child.

Pulse oximeter:

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give medicine or liquids.


  • Antiviral medicine may be given if your child has a severe infection or if he is at risk for severe infection.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given to decrease pain and fever.
  • Medicine to open your child's airway may be given. This medicine will decrease wheezing and make it easier for your child to breathe. The medicine is mixed with air or oxygen in a machine to change it into a mist. The mist makes it easier for your child to breathe the medicine into his or her lungs. The mist can be inhaled through a mouthpiece or mask.


  • Blood tests may be used to check for RSV. .
  • A swab of your child's nose or throat may be taken. The swab can be tested for RSV. If healthcare providers cannot get enough mucus from the swab, they may suction mucus from your child's nose. The mucus can also be tested for RSV.
  • X-ray pictures may show fluid or swelling in your child's lungs. .


  • IV fluids may be given to treat or prevent dehydration.
  • Your child may need extra oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


Your child can get an RSV infection more than once. Even with treatment, RSV may cause severe, life-threatening illness if your child has heart or other lung problems. Fast breathing may cause feeding problems. Your child may become dehydrated. Your child may not be able to breathe well on his or her own. He or she may need a ventilator to help him or her breathe.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.