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What You Need to Know About RSV Symptoms and Natural Medicine 

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The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is spreading quickly, particularly among children. It is not a new virus, but communities across the country are seeing extraordinarily early surges. The virus typically gains momentum in January, but this year physicians are reporting a slew of early infections and hospitalizations. Physicians say this is because we missed two previous viral seasons from COVID masking and limited contact with others. Though it may look like a cold, RSV can cause more severe breathing problems and even lead to pneumonia. 

The virus that causes RSV is highly contagious and is easily spread by touching contaminated surfaces. This is why children are so prone to getting RSV in schools, daycare centers, and after-school care programs. The virus enters the body through the nose or mouth when a person breathes in respiratory droplets from an infected person. Another way it is transmitted is when a person touches a surface that is contaminated and then touches their eyes. The virus is very contagious during the first week of being sick, but it can spread up to a month after symptoms are gone. 

When should you or a child see a doctor for RSV? 

The virus starts with mild cold-like symptoms, including congestion and a cough. Antibiotics do not work for RSV and there are natural approaches to RSV that naturopathic doctors use for mild symptoms. A naturopathic doctor may prescribe herbs and supplements to reduce the viral reaction and support the immune system. Another objective is to reduce overall mucus production and thin it out with saline. Infants prefer to breathe through their noses, so careful suctioning may help

For some adults and children, RSV can progress into a more serious lung infection. These symptoms can be quick breathing, gasping for breath, flaring of the nostrils, and caving in of the chest muscles when breathing. If you see any of these more severe RSV symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. 

Anyone can get the virus as everyone is likely exposed to RSV a couple of times per year. However, there are specific risks for complications, including: 

1. Newborns and infants under six months

2. Premature babies with poor lung development

3. People with heart or lung disease

4. Adults and children with weakened immune systems

5. Organ transplant or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

How to avoid getting RSV? 

Many of the same avoidance guidelines practiced for COVID apply to RSV, too. 

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Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
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How can you tell if you have a cold, allergies, or a respiratory virus?

For more information on how to find a naturopathic doctor (ND), see INM’s Find an ND Directory. Also, to find an ND who specializes in pediatrics, please visit our partners at the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)


Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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