With RSV on the rise, 5 tips to protect your kids

December 15, 2023
With RSV on the rise, 5 tips to protect your kids

Pediatricians here and across the state are seeing a spike in respiratory virus RSV among kids. 

RSV is especially hard on infants, when congestion and breathing problems lead to sleep and feeding issues, says Pediatrician Ben Flannery, MD.

RSV infects the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. The virus spreads easily through coughs, sneezes, and snot (and there’s a lot of snot). RSV is especially serious because there’s no treatment for it.

“We’re also seeing lots of kids with very high fevers, often due to COVID and influenza,” Dr. Flannery adds.

Metro and children’s hospitals are often full right now, so beds are scarce for kids who are sick enough to need hospitalization.

Dr. Flannery offers these tips to treat – or better yet, prevent – RSV and other viruses:

  1. Get their flu shot. It’s recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
  2. Keep kids home if they’re sick.
  3. Control fevers and fussiness with Tylenol (12 weeks and older) or ibuprofen (6 months and older).
  4. Push fluids to keep your child hydrated. For infants, feed smaller amounts more frequently to maintain hydration. For older kids, it’s okay if they don’t want to eat when they’re sick, but they need fluids. . . water, milk, juice, popsicles.
  5. Watch for signs of increased work to breathe, especially in infants.

Call your provider if a child under age 2 is: 

  • Breathing fast – more than 1 breath per second
  • Working hard to breathe in – the skin on the ribs or neck are sucking in with each breath
  • Not getting better after 5 days

Go to the Emergency Department for:

  • Baby under 2 months with difficult breathing, or fever 
  • Trouble breathing at night, especially for a child under age 2

During RSV season, “pregnant women should seriously think about the late-term RSV vaccine they can get to protect their newborn,” Dr. Flannery adds. “This is the best protection we can offer infants when RSV is circulating.”

RSV vaccine is recommended for women during 32-36 weeks of pregnancy. It’s available at NH+C’s Women’s Health Center.