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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Lim Sock Ling and Dr Eki Wari on January 10, 2023

How To Identify And Remedy RSV Symptoms In Your Child

RSV symptoms usually include a fever, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Here's how to help your child recover faster.

Sick child with mother min scaled

On average, RSV symptoms become so severe that they send 60,000 children to the hospital per year. In October and November of 2022, the virus hit harder and earlier than health officials were expecting.

Hospitals become overwhelmed, making worried parents desperate to get treatment for their children. And with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses also on the rise, the 2023 cold and flu season is expected to get worse before it gets better.

Many parents are taking extra precautions to keep their children healthy this year. Home remedies and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help boost your child’s defenses and reduce the severity of RSV symptoms.

In this guide, our experts help parents correctly identify RSV symptoms in their kids and provide tips for helping them recover at home.

What Is RSV?

A sick girl holding a teddy bear and coughing
A persistent cough is often the first sign of RSV in children.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a respiratory infection that causes the common cold. It can affect people of all ages. However, according to the American Lung Association, most children will get it by the time they are two years old.

“TCM diagnoses RSV as the flu. It’s caused by the invasion of external pathogens, such as Wind, Cold, Heat, Dampness, and Dryness that invades the body through the skin, which compromises the Lungs and wei qi. In children, it usually occurs with Phlegm or Stagnation, or with an element of fright. In adults, it could be due to Qi Deficiency or Yin Deficiency,” stated TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling.

What are RSV symptoms?

“From a TCM point of view, the Lungs and the skin are the two main organs affected by RSV. External pathogens affect the function of the Lungs and wei qi, which resides in and out of the skin. This results in disharmony within the defense layer and compromises Lung qi circulation. Moreover, the Lungs and skin are two associated organs.”

Physician Lim.

As a result, the following RSV symptoms may occur:

Why are RSV symptoms worse in children?

“From a TCM point of view, the organs such as the Lungs, Spleen, and Kidneys system of young children are not fully developed and lack the ability to combat external pathogens. Additionally, RSV is more prevalent during the fall and winter as more people stay indoors due to the cold. Therefore, there is a higher tendency to be infected,” stated Physician Lim.

How To Manage RSV Symptoms In Children

A cute young boy eating soup
Giving your child herbal soup can help them fight the symptoms of RSV.

In TCM, RSV symptoms can be managed by determining the type of syndrome your child experiences.

Physician Lim recommends the following treatment options, based on these syndromes:

Wind-Heat type

When symptoms include fever, thick mucus, sore throat, and thirst, use Yin Qiao San. Add Sang Ju Yin when there’s yellow Phlegm.

For a persistent cough with thick yellow Phelgm and fever, you can give your child Pak Poh powder.

Wind-Cold type

When symptoms include aversion to cold, little to no perspiration, white mucus, and no sore throat, use Jing Fang Bai Du Yin. Add San Ao Tang or Er Chen Tang when there is Phelgm.

Dry-Damp type

When symptoms include fever, lethargy, nausea, or vomiting, use Xin Jia Xiang Ru Yin.

In the presence of Stagnation, add Bao He Wan for a bloated stomach, poor appetite, bad breath, and vomiting.

When there is an element of fright, add Xiao Er Jin Dan Pian for disturbed sleep accompanied by night crying or if your child has seizures. Pearl powder can be used to settle the mind and ease frequent, fitful dreams.

For lactating babies, the prescription is in powdered form and can be applied directly to the nursing mother’s nipple to be consumed when latching. 

Parents can sponge their children regularly to reduce body temperature. Stroke downwards along your child’s spine to help with fever management.

Tips For Preventing RSV In Children

“Children with recurrent episodes of flu are usually prescribed Yu Ping Feng San or they can drink double-boiled cordyceps soup during the recovery phases to strengthen Lungs and Kidney organs,” stated Physician Lim.

Pediatric tuina can be done regularly for health maintenance and prevention and management of RSV symptoms. It is suitable for children under 7 yrs old and is especially useful for infants who have not started solids and are discouraged from using medicine. 

Meanwhile, Bo Ying Compound can be consumed on an as-needed basis to help build a strong immune system in children.

Here are some other prevention tips recommended by Physician Lim:

Image of Nie Ji acupoint stimulation on a child's spine for immune system support
Nie ji massage can be used to boost your child’s immune system.
  • Nie jiby pinching the two sides of the spine to strengthen the immunity of children, including infants. 
Image of Zu San Li (ST 36) acupoint on a child's leg
Use the tips of your thumb to massage the pressure point 50 times. It’s located three inches below the patella and one inch beside the tibia.
  • Zu San Li (ST36) is an acupoint that can be stimulated to boost immunity. It is also known as “the point of longevity” and “the point of one hundred diseases” because can help many different ailments. To stimulate this acupoint, press and hold with your thumb for 30 seconds. Release and repeat as needed.
  • Once the child starts solids, you can consider giving the child Si Shen soup or Si Shen brown rice cereal to improve their digestive system and immunity.  

Always remember to work with a registered TCM physician before giving your child herbal remedies. Seek immediate medical help if your child has difficulty breathing or if symptoms worsen or do not improve.

Has your child developed RSV symptoms this winter? If so, share with us how you helped them manage in the comments below.

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