RSV In Babies- Let’s Read Its Causes, Risks, And Treatment 

Rebekah Pais

Rebekah Pais
Aug 2023

2 min read
RSV In Babies

Table of content

Let’s Check On Some Facts On RSV In Babies In India

  • Prevalence: RSV is a common cause of respiratory infections in infants and young children worldwide, including in India. RSV infections tend to occur more frequently during the colder months.
  • Severity: RSV infections can range from mild cold-like symptoms to more severe respiratory illnesses like bronchiolitis and pneumonia. In some cases, especially among premature infants or those with underlying health conditions, RSV infections can lead to hospitalization.
  • High-Risk Groups: Premature infants, infants with chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, or other underlying medical conditions, are at a higher risk of severe RSV infections. These infants may require special attention and care to prevent as well as manage RSV infections.
  • Symptoms: Common symptoms of RSV infections in babies include cough, runny nose, sneezing, fever, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can be similar to those of other respiratory infections.
  • Transmission: RSV spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread by touching surfaces or objects with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Synagis (Palivizumab): In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe Synagis (palivizumab), a monoclonal antibody, to prevent severe RSV infections in high-risk infants. This medication is typically given as a monthly injection during the RSV season.

Let’s continue reading to know more about what is RSV In Babies.

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What Is RSV In Babies?

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a common virus that can affect people of all ages, but it is mainly known for causing respiratory infections in babies and young children. RSV infections are more common in fall, winter, and early spring months. 

It is also advisable to start feeding immunity boosting foods to your babies, that will actually help in fighting infections.

In babies, RSV can lead to a range of respiratory illnesses, including:

1. Bronchiolitis

This is the most common and often the most severe manifestation of RSV infection in babies. It causes inflammation and swelling in the small airways of the lungs (bronchioles), making breathing difficult. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, rapid breathing, as well as difficulty in feeding.

2. Tracheobronchitis

This is an infection that affects the larger airways (trachea and bronchi) and can lead to symptoms like cough and wheezing.

3. Colds

RSV infections can present with symptoms similar to those of a cold, such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and mild fever.

4. Pneumonia

RSV can also lead to pneumonia, an infection that causes inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs. Symptoms may include fever, rapid breathing, and difficulty breathing. You can try Fitelo’s child diet plan for pneumonia

5. Otitis Media

RSV infections can sometimes lead to ear infections, causing symptoms such as ear pain and fever. RSV is highly contagious and can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread through direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

What Are The Causes Of RSV In Babies?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections in babies are primarily caused by the RSV virus. The virus is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person, especially in settings where people are in close contact, such as households and childcare facilities. 

Here are some key points about the causes of RSV infections in babies:

1. Viral Transmission In RSV In Babies

RSV is primarily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These tiny droplets can contain the virus and can be inhaled by individuals nearby, leading to infection.

2. Direct Contact

RSV can also spread through direct contact with contaminated surfaces, objects, or hands. If a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, they can become infected.

3. High Contagiousness

RSV is highly contagious, and it is estimated that almost all children will have been infected with RSV by the time they reach their second birthday. Reinfections with different strains of RSV can occur throughout life.

4. Vulnerability Of Babies

Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to RSV infections because their immune systems are not fully developed, and their airways are smaller and more prone to inflammation and blockages. Premature infants are at an even higher risk due to underdeveloped lungs and immune systems. You must, however, learn ways how to boost immune system naturally.

5. Seasonal Patterns In RSV In Babies

RSV infections tend to occur more frequently during the fall, winter, and early spring months. The exact timing and severity of RSV outbreaks can vary from year to year.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of RSV transmission, especially for babies at higher risk of severe infections. 

This includes practicing good hand hygiene, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and keeping babies away from crowded places during peak RSV seasons.

Signs And Symptoms Of RSV In Babies

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections in babies can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms can vary widely. It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of RSV so that they can seek appropriate medical care if necessary. 

  • Coughing: Persistent coughing, often with a lot of mucus, is a common symptom of RSV in babies.
  • Wheezing: Wheezing, which is a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing, may occur due to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.
  • Rapid Breathing: Babies with RSV may breathe rapidly and have difficulty catching their breath.
  • Difficulty Breathing: Some babies may show signs of labored or shallow breathing, flaring nostrils, or using their chest as well as neck muscles to breathe.
  • Nasal Congestion: Babies with RSV often have a stuffy or runny nose, which can make it difficult for them to feed and sleep comfortably.
  • Sneezing: Frequent sneezing is another common symptom of RSV infection.
  • Fever: While a fever can occur with RSV, it’s not always present. If present, fever is usually mild to moderate.
  • Irritability: Infants with RSV may be more fussy, irritable, or have difficulty sleeping.
  • Decreased Appetite: Babies with RSV may have a reduced appetite due to nasal congestion and difficulty breathing.
  • Color Changes: Lips or skin may appear bluish (cyanosis) due to decreased oxygen levels in severe cases.
  • Dehydration: Rapid breathing and reduced feeding can lead to dehydration, which may result in fewer wet diapers and a dry mouth.
  • Lethargy: Severe RSV infections can lead to tiredness and lethargy in babies.

How To Treat RSV In Babies?

Most cases of RSV in babies are mild and can be managed with supportive care at home. However, for severe cases, especially in high-risk infants, medical intervention may be necessary. 

Here are some general guidelines for treating RSV in babies:

1. Supportive Care At Home

  • Keep the baby hydrated: Offer frequent breastfeeding or bottle feedings to prevent dehydration.
  • Use a humidifier: A cool-mist humidifier can help keep the air moist and ease congestion.
  • Elevate the baby’s head: Elevating the head of the crib slightly can help with breathing and drainage.
  • Use saline drops: Saline nasal drops can help loosen mucus and ease nasal congestion.
  • Suction the nose: Gently suction mucus from the baby’s nose using a bulb syringe, especially before feeding and bedtime.

2. Medical Care

  • Keep a close watch on your baby’s breathing, hydration, and overall condition.
  • Seek medical attention: If your baby shows signs of severe respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, bluish skin, or dehydration, seek immediate medical care.

3. Hospitalization

  • Severe cases of RSV, particularly in premature infants or those with underlying health conditions, may require hospitalization.
  • Hospitalization allows for close monitoring, oxygen therapy, and other necessary medical interventions.

4. Take Preventive Measures In RSV In Babies

  • Babies at high risk for severe RSV infections, such as premature infants or those with certain medical conditions, may be eligible for a preventive treatment called palivizumab (Synagis). 
  • This medication is administered monthly during RSV season to reduce the risk of severe illness.

Is There Any Natural Remedy To Treat RSV In Babies?

While there is no specific cure for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections and medical care is usually the primary approach, there are some natural remedies and supportive measures that may help ease symptoms and provide comfort for babies with mild RSV infections. 

It’s important to note that these remedies should not replace medical care, especially in severe cases or for high-risk infants. 

Here are a few natural approaches that may help:

1. Hydration

Keeping your baby well-hydrated is crucial. Offer breast milk, formula chocolate milk, or electrolyte solutions if your baby is having difficulty feeding due to nasal congestion. Adequate hydration can help thin mucus and make breathing easier.

2. Humidification

Using a cool-mist humidifier in the baby’s room can help keep the air moist, which may alleviate congestion and make breathing more comfortable.

3. Saline Nasal Drops

Using saline nasal drops can help clear nasal passages and ease congestion. Gently suction the baby’s nose after using saline drops.

4. Elevating The Head

Elevating the head of the baby’s crib slightly (using a wedge under the mattress, not pillows) can help with breathing and drainage of mucus.

5. Steamy Bathroom

Taking the baby into a steamy bathroom (with hot water running in the shower) for a short period can help ease congestion. Make sure the baby is supervised and not exposed to hot water or steam directly.

6. Warm Liquids

For older infants who have started solids, warm liquids like clear broths or warm water may help soothe the throat and ease discomfort.

7. Try Aromatherapy To Treat RSV In Babies

Some parents find that using essential oils like eucalyptus (diffused in a safe manner) can help ease congestion. However, it’s important to use essential oils cautiously, as some may be too strong for babies.

How To Prevent RSV In Babies?

Preventing Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections in babies involves a combination of hygiene practices, preventive measures, and, in some cases, medical interventions. 

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of RSV, especially during peak seasons, taking proactive steps can help reduce the likelihood of infection. 

Here are some strategies to help prevent RSV in babies:

1. Frequent Handwashing

Wash your hands and encourage others to do the same before touching or holding your baby. Maintaining good hand hygiene which is one of the most important aspects to prevent the spread of the virus. 

2. Limit Exposure To Sick Individuals

Avoid close contact with individuals who have cold-like symptoms or are visibly sick. This is especially important during RSV season.

3. Avoid Crowded Places

During peak RSV months, consider limiting your baby’s exposure to crowded areas, such as shopping malls and public transportation.

4. Practice Respiratory Etiquette

Keep your mouth and nose covered with either a tissue or your elbow whenever you cough or sneeze. Teach older children and caregivers to do the same.

5. Clean And Disinfect

Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys, doorknobs, and light switches.

6. Take Care Of Breastfeeding With RSV In Babies

If possible, breastfeed your baby. Breast milk contains antibodies that can help protect against infections, including RSV.

7. Vaccination And Preventive Medications In RSV In Babies

Consult your healthcare provider to determine if your baby is eligible for preventive medications such as palivizumab (Synagis), which may be recommended for high-risk infants during RSV season.

8. Hygiene When Caring For A Sick Baby

If your baby has symptoms of a respiratory infection, practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus to others in the household. This includes frequent handwashing and using tissues or disposable wipes for nose and mouth care.

9. Educate Caregivers

Make sure anyone who cares for your baby, including family members and caregivers, is aware of RSV risks and prevention strategies.

10. Avoid Sharing Personal Items

Avoid sharing cups, utensils, and other personal items with your baby, especially during cold and flu season.

11. Monitor Baby’s Health

Keep a close eye on your baby’s health, especially if they are at a higher risk for severe RSV infections. Seek medical attention if your baby shows signs of respiratory distress or other concerning symptoms.

Healthy Foods To Include For RSV In Babies

When dealing with a baby who has a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection, it’s important to focus on providing nutritious and easily digestible foods that can help support their immune system and overall health. 

Keep in mind that babies with RSV may have reduced appetite due to congestion and discomfort, so offering small, frequent meals and plenty of fluids is key. 

Here are some healthy foods to consider including in your baby’s diet during an RSV infection:

1. Breast Milk Or Formula

Breast milk or formula provides essential nutrients and hydration. Continue to feed your baby according to their usual feeding schedule. If your baby’s appetite is reduced, offer smaller, more frequent feedings.

2. Soft Fruits

Offer mashed or pureed fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, and peaches. These fruits provide vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars.

3. Vegetables

Cooked and mashed or pureed vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash soup are good choices. They provide vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

4. Popsicles

Try switching from unhealthy ice creams to homemade and healthy popsicles. Basically, you can make them from pureed fruits and water can soothe a sore throat and provide hydration.

5. Yogurt

Plain, unsweetened yogurt is a good source of protein and probiotics that can support gut health. Try adding it to your baby’s diet with food or just a drink.

6. Rice Or Whole Grain Cereals

Cooked rice or whole grain cereals can provide easily digestible carbohydrates and energy.

7. Broth-Based Soups

Clear, low-sodium broth-based soups can provide hydration and nutrients. Make sure the soup is not too hot.

8. Oatmeal

Plain, cooked oatmeal is easy to digest and provides complex carbohydrates for energy. You can also add a small amount of fruit puree for flavor.

Try This Yummy And Healthy Fruit Toast Recipe 

Looking for something sweet yet healthy for your younger one? Well, this recipe is especially for kids and parents to devour over a movie night or just for a healthy dessert. 

Wrapping It Up For RSV In Babies

Remember that every baby is unique, and their needs may vary. Pay attention to your baby’s cues and seek medical attention if you notice any worsening symptoms or respiratory distress. 

By adopting these healthy habits, you can help support your baby’s recovery and overall well-being during an RSV infection.

Fun Fact

Birthday parties call out for some yummy fries and burgers, right? How about keeping some cool house parties and preparing yummy meals from packaged Makhanas? They are very healthy snacking options. They are a good source of nutrients and have very less fat and calories if consumed in raw as well as unpacked form.

12 Year Old Jaskaran lost 25 Kgs With Fitelo’s Diet Counsellor

Today we will talk about the weight loss transformation of a cute school-going kid from Italy. So, like any other kid his age, he leads a carefree life, eating whatever he finds tasty. 

When his parents noticed that he was gaining weight due to junk eating, they reached out to us. Read how 12 Year Old Jaskaran lost 25 Kgs With Fitelo’s Diet Counsellor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is RSV Curable In Babies?

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) infections in babies are not curable with specific antiviral medications. Most cases are managed through supportive care to alleviate symptoms and aid recovery. Preventive measures, such as good hygiene and avoiding exposure to sick individuals, can reduce the risk of RSV. High-risk babies may benefit from preventive treatments like palivizumab. Monitoring and timely medical attention are crucial for managing severe cases and complications.

How To Recognize RSV In Babies?

Recognizing RSV in babies involves observing signs such as persistent coughing, wheezing, rapid or labored breathing, nasal congestion, and difficulty feeding due to respiratory distress. Irritability, fever, and bluish skin coloration are also possible indicators. If a baby shows these symptoms, especially in the context of cold and flu season, it’s important to seek medical advice promptly for proper evaluation and care.

How Does RSV Affect Babies?

RSV can affect babies by causing respiratory infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It leads to symptoms like coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, and rapid breathing. Babies, especially premature or those with underlying conditions, are at higher risk for severe complications. RSV infections can lead to hospitalization and require supportive care to manage breathing difficulties and maintain hydration.

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This blog post was written to help you to make healthy and better food choices altogether. So, be aware and take care. The important thing to consider is your own health before starting a diet that is restrictive. Always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian before starting if you have any concerns.

Eat Healthy, Live Healthy as well as Enjoy a long happy life

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