RSV in Babies: 10 Top Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment Methods You Should Look Out For

RSV in Babies: 10 Top Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment Methods You Should Look Out For


Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common transmittable virus that affects the respiratory tracts of most children before their second birthday. In most babies, RSV causes just a cold, however, there is also a likelihood of it leading to severe sometimes lethal problems such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, or an inflammation of the small airways of the lungs.

So, mums and dads should take extra care to notice changes in their babies, particularly as it relates to their breathing. RSV is most commonly transmitted from November to April when cooler temperatures bring people indoors and when they are most likely to interact with each other.

RSV is usually contracted when a baby comes in contact with the fluid of an infected person’s nose or mouth, when the baby touches a contaminated surface and then rubs his or her eyes, nose or mouth with that hand, or when a baby inhales droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. RSV also spreads through the air, particularly when one who has it coughs or sneezes and another comes in contact with it. These are common causes of RSV in babies.

Babies who were born prematurely, children below the age of two (2) who were born with a heart or lung disease, children with weak immune systems due to a disease, an illness or medical treatment and children below 8 to 10 weeks are at a higher risk of contracting RSV.

Here are 10 top symptoms of RSV in babies that parents need to look out for;

Faster Breathing

When your baby begins to breathe faster than normal, then a checkup is imminent, because that is a strong indication of RSV. Babies with RSV usually breathe so fast as the infection causes a cold in them. So, mums and dads, please observe your babies carefully and when you notice a change in their breathing, do consult your doctor.

Dry Cough

Dry cough or a cough with yellow, green or gray mucus is a symptom of RSV in babies. When your baby begins to experience a dry cough, please see the doctor for a diagnosis.


Not all fevers in babies are mere fevers. Some could be as a result of RSV. So, do not assume that it is just fever, please consult your doctor, particularly when the fever persists. When your baby experiences fever greater than 39.4°C, then it is a strong indication that your baby has RSV.


If your baby wheezes when breathing, or he/she experiences difficulty in breathing, or pauses in their breaths, that is a strong sign of RSV.

Runny Nose and Sneezing

If your baby is continually having a runny nose, or sneezing, or they are using their chest muscles to breathe in a way that seems to be labored, then that is a sign that your baby may have RSV infection. So, please take the child to the hospital for a diagnosis.


Dehydration in the sense that there is a lack of tears whenever your baby cries, or little or no urine in your baby’s diaper for several hours, or a dry skin, then your baby may just have RSV infection.

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 Blue-coloured Fingernails or Mouth

If you notice that your baby’s fingernails or mouth is turning or has turned blue, then, please see the doctor immediately. It is a huge sign of RSV and also a sign that your baby is not getting adequate oxygen and is in acute distress. In such situation, it is crucial to immediately see the doctor and the baby taken to the Emergency Room (ER).

A Refusal to Breastfeed or Bottle-feed

When you notice that your baby no longer wants to breastfeed or bottle-feed as he/she used to, then there is something wrong somewhere, this could be RSV. So, you need to call your doctor’s attention to that.


If your baby gets tired easily, particularly a child that used to be so energetic and bubbly, then that is a symptom of RSV. You should contact your medical doctor for a checkup.


If your child feels easily irritated, gets angry quickly or is just plain inactive, then it may be RSV.

If your baby has been diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), there is no cause for alarm as there are treatment options and methods for such. Here are some of the treatment methods for RSV;

  • The use of a Mechanical Ventilator – RSV can be treated with the of a mechanical ventilator which is a breathing machine that helps to inflate the baby’s lungs until the virus disappears.
  • Giving the baby oxygen;
  • Administering IV Fluids;
  • Remove sticky nasal fluids with a bulb syringe and saline drops;
  • Give the baby small amount of fluids throughout the day;
  • Medications to open their airways;
  • Palivizumab medication can be taken to protect high-risk babies from serious complications.

RSV should not be treated with antibiotics. It is not caused by bacteria but by a virus.

Prevention of RSV in Babies

RSV can be prevented. So, follow these key steps for preventing your baby from contracting RSV infection;

  • Try not to kiss your baby if you have a cold or you feel cold symptoms;
  • Keep your baby away from a smoky environment;
  • Properly clean and disinfect surfaces around the house;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Kindly ask people to wash their hands before touching or playing with your baby;
  • Keep your baby away from crowd;
  • Ensure your baby stays away from anyone with cold symptoms;
  • A medication known as Palivizumab can be taken to prevent RSV in babies.
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