Home treatments for viruses

Home Treatments for Respiratory Viruses

Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV for short, is a virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages and will affect almost all children before they are two years old. When healthy children get RSV, it will effect them just like a cold, but some children can become very sick when they contract RSV. RSV is the main cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis-an infection that causes swelling in the lining of the small breathing tubes of the lungs, making it difficult to breath. Both pneumonia and bronchiolitis are very serious illnesses and may require hospitalization in severe cases.  Common symptoms of RSV and other respiratory viruses are:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Low fever
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Fussiness
  • Poor Eating

Children will start to show symptoms within four to six days once they are infected with the virus. These symptoms should go away within five to seven days and should be treated the same way as you would treat a cold. RSV is usually more common during the fall, winter and spring months.


  1. Thin the Mucus. To do this you will want to use saline solution (saltwater) unless something else has been prescribed to you by your doctor. Check with your doctor before using anything else.
  2. Blow or Clear the nose with a suction bulb. This works best with children younger than six months old. First squeeze the bulb and then gently insert the rubber tip into the nostril and slowly release the bulb. This will suck out the excess mucus in the nostril, clearing the airways and making it easier for baby to breathe.
  3. Humidifiers work wonders for a stuffed up nose. Parents will want to use a cool mist humidifier in the child’s room. A humidifier puts water into the air to help relieve your child’s stuffy nose. Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly to avoid bacteria.
  4. Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be used for fevers. Make sure you use the correct dosage, call your doctor if you are unsure. Never use aspirin to any child under the age of 18.
  5. Keep them hydrated. Some babies can get dehydrated and may have trouble sucking or nursing while they are sick. It is crucial to make sure that they are getting enough liquids and staying hydrated. Your baby may prefer clear liquids over formula or milk. Make sure to consult with your doctor if your child is younger than six months old before giving them anything other than formula or milk. Try offering water or watered down juice a little at a time. It might be harder for baby to drink since they are having a hard time breathing.
  6. Sore Throat. For children over 1 year old, use warm chicken broth. If over 6 years of age, your child can also suck on hard candy.
  7. Cough. For children over 1 year old, give honey 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 2 to 5 ml. If over 6 years of age, you can also use cough drops. Caution: Do not use honey until 1 year old.
  8. Red Eyes. Rinse eyelids often with wet cotton balls.

Cold medicines are not advised in children under 4. Allergy medicines and Antibiotics are also ineffective against respiratory viruses. Antibiotics are only needed if a secondary infection from the virus occurs.


Contact us if your baby is showing any of these signs:

  • Not wanting to eat
  • Trouble breathing or not breathing as usual
  • Wheezing
  • Acting fussy or restless

If your child’s symptoms worsen or do not start to improve in 7 days, or they develop earache or sinus pain, contact The Pediatric Center for an appointment. Our board certified physicians are 100% dedicated to the health and wellbeing of your child and we treat each and every child under our care as one of our own. We provide the highest medical care to patients from birth to 19 years of age while striving to make them as comfortable as possible.


Some content provided by healthychildren.org.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.