Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is here!!

RSV is a virus. It's short for respiratory syncytial virus. It causes a disease in young children (especially those less than 2 years) called bronchiolitis. The RSV season usually begins around mid-August and runs through March. Bronchiolitis can also also be caused by other viruses such as influenza, parainfluenza, and metapneumovirus.

Bronchiolitis is a disease of the lower respiratory tract which causes children to wheeze. They are wheezy because their small airways have swelling and junk (mucous and cells from the lining of the airway) in them.

The smaller airways are similar to the area where a child with asthma has issues (which is why they wheeze). The difference is that children with asthma have a squeezing down of the walls of the airway (which is what a breathing treatment reverses). This is why breathing treatments in children with bronchiolitis usually don't work.

What are the symptoms of bronchiolitls?

Typically the child starts with runny nose and cough. This will progressively worsen over a few days and possibly develop into difficulty breathing and difficulty with eating. The symptoms typically last a total of about 5-7 days with the worst day being the day in the middle. It is not uncommon for the cough and runny nose from bronchiolitis to last 2-3 weeks.

How do we treat bronchiolitis?

In most children, treatment is done at home and consists of sucking snot and counting wet diapers. Look for a wet diaper about every 6 hours.

Who goes to the hospital?

Getting admitted for bronchiolitis is usually based on: dehydration, severe difficulty breathing or low oxygen levels.


  1. Bronchiolitis stinks, it makes kids sick and there's no specific treatment to make it go away.
  2. Whether it's RSV or not often doesn't matter.
  3. Watch for difficulty breathing and decreased wet diapers.