RSV

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

RSV Treatment

Currently, there is no RSV specific medication available through a pharmacy.

The main remedies for mild RSV infections are over the counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen. Acetaminophen may help with controlling fever and pain. Saline nasal drops may help to remove mucus from the nose and clear the airways.

RSV medication

Treatment for RSV is primarily supportive care. No pharmaceutical agent is recommended in the treatment of RSV. Medications are given in rare instances, and generally in a specific population in a healthcare setting (i.e., immunocompromised patients and transplant recipients).

Generally speaking, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

In adults, eating balanced nutritious foods such as citrus fruits, peppers, garlic and ginger is important to give the immune system the boost it needs to fight off the virus. Liquid foods such as soup are advised in adults who may find eating difficult.

How to help infants

For babies, clearing mucus from the nose with a bulb syringe may temporarily improve their breathing. If this is done just before feeding, it will help the infant to drink more easily.

Encouraging babies to feed is important to keep them hydrated. Most clinicians will recommend a humidifier as well to help humidify the air.

Self-medication techniques

For older children and adults, basic self-care such as resting from work or school, staying indoors, and keeping warm may be sufficient.

Things to avoid

It is important to keep your home as clean as possible to remove any RSV and reduce exposure to other pathogens when the patient is immunocompromised.

Eliminating exposure to cigarette smoke is key to minimizing irritation to the lungs and will help prevent other serious complications to the illness. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine which can inflame various parts of the body is also recommended.

Treatment in severe cases of RSV

For more severe cases, medical attention and hospitalization may be required20. For example, if an infant is unable to feed, hospitalization may be needed for IV (intravenous) hydration or placement of a feeding tube.

A patient may suffer from hypoxemia (decreased oxygen levels) as a result of RSV bronchiolitis. Oxygen is administered through the nostrils. This provides the necessary oxygen needed by the body and decreases the work that the patient has to do in order to breathe.

Alternatively, a nebulizer may be used to administer medication.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe the following medications to provide symptomatic relief.

May be prescribed

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Treatment of RSV

How can we prevent RSV?

Without a vaccine or treatment medication available, RSV prevention is key18. Prevention consists of taking simple steps to minimize the risk of infection and keeping ourselves as healthy as possible:

  • Follow basic hygiene techniques: Such as washing your hands regularly before eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet, changing a diaper or after coughing or sneezing. This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from most infections. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel.
  • Try to avoid touching any surfaces: Clean work surfaces and toys prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Make sure all vaccinations19are up to date: This is particularly important for babies and young children.
  • Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle: It is well recognized that an otherwise healthy body can recover much more quickly from a serious infection than one which is malnourished and deficient in essential nutrients.

Older adults are particularly susceptible to malnutrition and aging is often accompanied by a decline in immune function. There is a strong link between obesity and many preventable illnesses including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

How to get rid of RSV

Observing basic hygiene practices such as proper hand washing with soap and water and not sharing eating and drinking utensils are simple ways to help prevent the spread of RSV infection. A patient should rest and avoid contact with other people as much as possible until the contagious phase has passed in order to limit the spread of RSV.

Using tissues to sneeze and cleaning any work surfaces and toys or objects that may have become contaminated with the virus will help eliminate it. Thorough cleaning by washing utensils properly in hot water will also help to stop the virus spreading.

Keeping children away from anyone else who may be infected will help to prevent the spread of the disease.

In terms of medication, there is currently no cure for RSV. It is simply a matter of resting and letting the body fight off the infection.

There are some simple steps that you can take at home to alleviate some of the discomfort. Keeping the patient comfortable by maintaining room temperature may help, as will humidifying the air. Using a humidifier or taking a steam shower will keep the air moist and alleviate wheezing symptoms.

Drinking plenty of warm fluids is important to avoid dehydration. Using pillows to sleep in a more angled position may help to make it easier to breathe at night.

How to help infants

For babies, clearing mucus from the nose with a bulb syringe may temporarily improve their breathing. If this is done just before feeding, it will help the infant to drink more easily.

Encouraging babies to feed is important to keep them hydrated. Most clinicians will recommend a humidifier as well to help humidify the air.

Self-medication techniques

For older children and adults, basic self-care such as resting from work or school, staying indoors, and keeping warm may be sufficient.

Things to avoid

It is important to keep your home as clean as possible to remove any RSV and reduce exposure to other pathogens when the patient is immunocompromised.

Eliminating exposure to cigarette smoke is key to minimizing irritation to the lungs and will help prevent other serious complications to the illness. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine which can inflame various parts of the body is also recommended.

Treatment in severe cases of RSV

For more severe cases, medical attention and hospitalization may be required20. For example, if an infant is unable to feed, hospitalization may be needed for IV (intravenous) hydration or placement of a feeding tube.

A patient may suffer from hypoxemia (decreased oxygen levels) as a result of RSV bronchiolitis. Oxygen is administered through the nostrils. This provides the necessary oxygen needed by the body and decreases the work that the patient has to do in order to breathe.

Alternatively, a nebulizer may be used to administer medication.


Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

References
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