How to spot the signs of RSV

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is so common that nearly all children have had it by their second birthday. But what is RSV? And why is it important to recognize when your child has RSV—especially RSV that may be getting worse?

RSV is a cold-like illness that affects the lungs, nose and throat. Most kids who get RSV recover on their own in a week or two. But young children with RSV can sometimes get very sick. They may get bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) or pneumonia and need to be hospitalized for a few days.

Spot the signs

RSV often starts like a mild cold. The symptoms may include a runny nose, a cough, and a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher. Very young babies with RSV may only be cranky, tired and less interested in feeding.

If the RSV gets worse, children may have additional symptoms, like fast breathing or wheezing (a whistling sound when your child breathes).

When to call the doctor

You should call your child's doctor if your child has trouble breathing or other worsening symptoms; trouble drinking; signs of dehydration (such as fewer than one wet diaper per eight hours); or decreased alertness.

Caring for a child with RSV

There is no cure for RSV. But you may be able to ease the symptoms until the virus runs its course by:

• Using nasal saline and a suction bulb to clear a stuffy nose for easier breathing.

• Giving your child over-the-counter medicines as directed by your child's doctor.

• Helping your child drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration.

With four convenient locations across Lakeland and Plant City, expanded appointment availability for sick visits, and 24-hour coverage for urgent care needs, Watson Clinic’s Pediatrics department is always there when your child needs personalized attention. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Add your comments:

Items in bold indicate required information.