December 16, 2022

The Inland Northwest and the nation are seeing a rise in respiratory viruses. Seasonal flu, COVID-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). While the best protection against COVID-19 and the flu is vaccination, currently, RSV does not have a vaccine.

What is RSV?

RSV is something you or your children may have already gotten. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms. The symptoms of RSV are a runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. The symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, decreased appetite, and breathing difficulties for young infants.

How Severe is RSV?

The cold symptoms usually get better in four to six days. Still, sometimes they can cause hospitalization in infants and the elderly. For children under two, severe RSV can cause illnesses like bronchiolitis or inflammation of the small airway in the lung and Pneumonia.

Infants under six months may need to be hospitalized if they have trouble breathing or eating.

What Will My Baby Look Like When They Are Breathing Hard?

  • Increased breathing rate.
  • Stomach sucking in more than usual with breathing.
  • Retractions – skin pulling in around bones in the chest (in the neck, above the collar bone, under the breastbone, between and under ribs).
  • Flaring of nostrils.
  • The Head moves back and forth with each breath (head bobbing).
  • Noisy breathing (wheezing, grunting, high-pitched noise when breathing in or out).
  • Increased coughing or mucus.
  • Sweating – clammy skin.
  • Open mouth.

What Will My Baby Act Like When They Are Breathing Hard?

Because you know your child better than anyone else, you can look for signs or changes that show your child is working harder to breathe. In addition to the physical signs above, here are a few of the most common behavioral warning signs.

  • Waking up from sleeping with a cough or unable to sleep comfortably due to difficulty breathing.
  • Lethargy (acting tired and weak).
  • Fussy, agitated behavior.
  • Eating less than normal or stopping to rest while eating.
  • Pulling off the breast or away from the bottle to take a breath.

How Should I Treat My Child With RSV?

A sick child is never a fun thing. But when they are suffering from RSV, here are some tips to get them comfortable.

  • Make sure your child is getting enough liquids.
  • Suction your child’s nose with a bulb syringe or mouth-operated nasal aspirator before they eat, before naps or bedtime, or if having trouble breathing.
  • Do not expose your child to cigarette smoke.
  • Wash your hands often. Washing your hands is the best way to stop the spread of germs, including viruses.
  • If your child needs to see a provider, reach out to their doctor for the right level of care.

How To Stop the Spread of RSV And Other Viruses?

There are several things you and your family can do to lower your risk of illness and the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with sudsy soap in warm water or hand sanitizer if soap and water are not convenient.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose where germs like to enter.
  • Stay home when you’re sick (even if it is “just a cold”) and isolate sick household members in separate rooms.
  • Wear a mask in crowded or poorly ventilated settings.
  • Limit the number of close contacts for young infants and individuals with certain chronic conditions.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces frequently with a cleaner known to kill these common viruses.

If you have questions about RSV, call today for an appointment at 509.444.8200 or visit