RSV in Toddlers: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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All moms want to be good moms, that’s for sure! But what do you do when your kids get sick? Of course, depending on the severity of the sickness, there are different ways to treat illness and times when doctors need to be involved. 

I know when my kids get sick, I get really worked up and nervous. I want to make sure I’m providing adequate care and getting the best medical help if needed. And things are even more challenging if traveling is involved with sick children! It’s not easy for parents or kids when sickness hits; that’s where this RSV in toddlers breakdown comes in handy. 

When RSV in toddlers is diagnosed, there are lots of questions running through a parent’s head. We are giving you all the answers to your most common questions for RSV in toddlers so that you can get your child the help they need! 

What is RSV in Toddlers?

RSV in toddlers

According to the Mayo Clinic, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract. In babies, RSV can be fatal, but for older children and adults, RSV mimics more mild common cold symptoms.

Most children get the RSV virus by the time they are 3 years old at some point because of it being such a common illness for toddlers. 

Is RSV serious in toddlers?

RSV in toddlers

Most of the time, RSV in toddlers is not serious. Usually, it is just another run of the mill cold for a toddler. That doesn’t mean it can’t become serious, though, which means It should be monitored closely! 

Your toddler has an increased risk of more life-threatening RSV if they have congenital heart or lung disease. 

When in doubt, always call your child’s doctor to get guidance!

How do I know if my toddler has RSV?

RSV in toddlers

If your child is experiencing the symptoms listed below, then there is a chance they might have RSV. But don’t jump to conclusions.

If you do take your child to the doctor, they may do a nasal swab. If things are more serious, then a chest x-ray or oxygen test may be done. 

Most of the time RSV in toddlers is not treated because they recover on their own. 

What are the symptoms of RSV in toddlers?

RSV Symptoms may include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache

Severe RSV Symptoms:

  • Refusal to eat & signs of dehydration
  • Severe cough
  • Rapid breathing and chest retraction
  • High fever
  • High pitched wheezing while breathing
  • Bluish look to the skin

Ear infections can also be a sign of RSV as well. Sinuses get so stuffy, and sometimes a toddler’s ears don’t drain well. 

What does RSV cough sound like?

RSV in toddlers

Sometimes you can determine the best course of action for your child medically by listening to the type of cough they have. Kids that have RSV usually have a couple of days where they experience respiratory symptoms like having a runny nose or being congested.

Along with those symptoms with a cold, you can hear more coughing that is forced and more of a wet sound. Wheezing and increased energy breathing is also a sign of RSV in toddlers.

How do I treat RSV in toddlers at home?

There are lots of things you can do at home to treat RSV in toddlers! The primary treatment is just merely keeping your child comfortable

At Home RSV Treatments for Toddlers

First, you want to make sure you are helping your child clear their sinuses.  Using a Nose Frida with some saline spray works best for this. 

You definitely want to use a good humidifier to help keep your toddler’s airs breathing nice and moist. Humidifiers also help with making breathing easier. Taking a hot steamy shower for an extended period of time can also help with breathing and loosening up mucus. 

Make sure your kids are hydrated! Help them drink lots of water frequently throughout the day. One of my best tricks is keeping a water bottle nearby or giving my child a special drink they sip on all day to keep them well hydrated. 

Giving your child a fever reducer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help a lot. A fever can be very uncomfortable. Just remember that the medication should NOT have aspirin! 

Also, be sure to keep track of the times you administer the medicine! I like to keep a piece of paper on the fridge where I write down the time each time I give my child a dose of medication.

If I don’t write it down, I can’t even remember when it is time to give them more medicine. As a bonus, writing it down is one less thing you have to worry about when you have a sick toddler.

Along with the treatment of your child’s sickness, here are some great ideas to help keep your kids entertained and distracted. Keeping your toddler’s mind off of their discomfort helps a lot!

Don’t forget about letting your toddler get lots of rest. Ease up on screen time and make sure they are getting adequate sleep!

How long does it take for toddlers to get over RSV?

RSV in toddlers

Symptoms of RSV usually last between 3 and 7 days. For a typical person, the longest it would last is around 2 weeks. Day 5 of the illness is usually when RSV is the worst.

Sometimes a lingering cough from RSV can linger for up to 4 weeks even though the other symptoms are gone. 

How contagious is RSV?

RSV in toddlers

According to the CDC, RSV is very contagious. It spreads very easily! RSV spreads through droplets containing the virus. The spreading of germs happens when someone coughs or sneezes.

A person that has  RSV can be contagious for up to 8 days. And the virus can live on surfaces like clothing or doorknobs for several hours! 

The best way to prevent your toddler from getting RSV is frequent handwashing. Remember not just to wash your toddler’s hands, but your own hands as well!  Also, try limiting their exposure to lots of people at places like childcare or large gatherings.

Disinfecting commonly used surfaces in your home is also helpful. Don’t forget about disinfecting toys! Toys carry so many germs. Find all toys with hard surfaces and soak them in the bathtub with some bleach.

Also, gather all toys like stuffed animals and wash them in hot water and bleach in the washing machine. Lysol works great also if you can’t deep clean the toys right away. 

Is RSV seasonal?

RSV in toddlers

Unfortunately, RSV is usually most rampant in late fall to the early spring. With the weather getting colder, a toddler’s body is doing a lot of adjusting!

Some Key Points to Remember About RSV

  • RSV is really contagious, so make sure to be vigilant about good hygiene habits to avoid coming in contact with the virus and also spreading it. That means lots of handwashing!
  • Try to keep away from infants if you are diagnosed with RSV or feel a little under the weather. Babies are much more susceptible than toddlers and can get very sick and become hospitalized. 
  • Staying hydrated is very important for getting over RSV. Keeping a wet, productive cough is best for clearing everything out.
  • Avoid medications that have aspirin. Aspirin is linked to Reye syndrome.
  • A cool-mist humidifier helps with breathing a lot! If you don’t have a humidifier, running a hot shower with the door shut is an excellent way to help as well. 
  • Since RSV is a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective. Keeping your child comfortable and breathing and sleeping well is what’s important. 

Has your toddler experienced RSV? Share some tips for other moms and dad on how to help treat RSV in toddlers! 

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