How RSV Is Treated

Mild RSV infections will go away in a week or two without treatment. You can use over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers to manage your symptoms. Check with your doctor if you are not sure if an over-the-counter product is safe to give to your child. Your doctor may also suggest nasal saline drops or suctioning to clear a stuffy nose. Supportive care such as staying hydrated and comfortable is also helpful.

In severe cases, most commonly for infants younger than 6 months of age and older adults, hospitalization may be needed. The hospital will use Intravenous (IV) fluids to aid in hydration, and a breathing machine or humidified oxygen to help your body receive the oxygen it needs. In most cases, hospitalization will only last a few days.

RSV Prevention 

RSV is highly contagious. So, there are some steps you should take to prevent its spread. The most effective means of protection are some of the simplest, such as:

  • Avoiding close contact with infected people
  • Avoiding sharing cups, bottles or toys that may have been contaminated with the virus since the virus can live on surfaces for several hours
  • Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water after coming into contact with an infected person

Researchers are working to develop a vaccine, but currently, there is nothing available for public use. In very rare situations, high-risk infants may be prescribed monthly injections of palivizumab to help prevent RSV.

Finding Support

Call the Lung Association's Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA to talk to a trained professional who can help answer your questions and connect you with additional support.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: October 24, 2020

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