Baby and Toddler

What is RSV?

Woman holding sleeping child

If you have a baby, toddler, or child of school-going age, you may already have been made aware of the winter illness known as RSV. It’s quite similar to winter colds and flu and has been doing the rounds in creches and schools. While it causes mild cold symptoms for adults, babies and young children can be particularly vulnerable. In this blog, we explain what RSV is, the symptoms to watch for, and how you can help.

What is RSV?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract. In adults, it causes mild cold-like symptoms, but in more vulnerable people, particularly babies and young children, it can become more serious. While it may seem like a common winter cold at first, it can lead to bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia if left untreated. The RSV virus can easily be passed along in schools and creches so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.


Coughing and Sneezing:  RSV usually begins with symptoms similar to the common cold, including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and coughing.

Fever: Infants and young children with RSV may develop a fever, which can contribute to discomfort and irritability.

Difficulty Breathing: As the virus progresses, it can cause wheezing and difficulty breathing. This is a crucial symptom that requires immediate medical attention.

Reduced Appetite: Infants with RSV may exhibit a decrease in appetite, leading to feeding difficulties.

Irritability and Fatigue:  Due to the discomfort caused by respiratory distress, babies and young children may become more irritable and fatigued than usual.


Early treatment is important to prevent leading to more severe complications such as:

Bronchiolitis: RSV is a common cause of bronchiolitis, which is the inflammation of the small airways in the lungs.

Pneumonia: In severe cases, RSV can progress to pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Ear Infections:  RSV can increase the risk of developing ear infections in children.

Managing RSV symptoms

While there is no specific cure for RSV, there are a few things you can do to help manage symptoms and prevent complications:

Hydration:  Ensure that your child stays well-hydrated, as this can help alleviate symptoms and prevent dehydration.

Rest: Make sure your little one gets plenty of rest to aid in recovery.

Use a Humidifier: Using a humidifier, such as the ClevaPure Salt Lamp & Humidifier can help to ease congestion and make breathing more comfortable. This also aids sleep which is a big help in recovery.

Elevate the Head: Keeping your child’s head elevated while sleeping can assist in reducing coughing and congestion. You can do this with extra pillows, a wedge-shaped support, or by putting rolled up blankets under the mattress to create an incline.

Medical Attention: If your child’s symptoms worsen, they have difficulty breathing or have a persistent fever, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.


Prevention is always better than cure and there are things you can do to prevent the spread of RSV. Here are some preventative measures:

Practice good hand hygiene: Regular handwashing is essential, especially after contact with someone who may have a cold. Keep hand sanitizer nearby for you and, if permitted, send some to school with your child.

Avoid contact:  Limiting contact can help prevent the transmission of the virus. So, if your child is unwell, cancel the playdates and keep them home from school until they are better.

Clean and Disinfect:  Keep surfaces clean and disinfected, particularly in areas frequented by infants and young children.

Avoid Tobacco Smoke: Exposure to tobacco smoke can increase the risk and severity of RSV infections. Avoid smoking in the vicinity of infants.

Use an Air Purifier: An such as the ClevaPure HEPA Air Purifier can be used to help remove bacteria, viruses, allergens, and irritants from the air in the home and can help minimize the spread of illness.

Awareness of RSV and its symptoms is key to prevention and management. By recognizing the symptoms, and implementing preventative measures, we can protect our little ones from the potential dangers of this common virus. If you suspect your child has RSV or is exhibiting severe symptoms, consult your healthcare professional for advice and treatment.

More information: HSE & CDC

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