If your child has asthma, you may be worried about how respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can affect their health. RSV is a virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most people but can also trigger asthma attacks and complications in some children. Supporting your child with asthma when recovering from RSV is crucial to get better and prevent future problems.

It is essential to seek medical attention if your child has signs of a severe RSV infection or an asthma attack. A child with a severe RSV infection may present with difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, flaring nostrils, bluish skin color, or dehydration, which differs from the signs of an asthma attack that may include wheezing, chest tightness, or trouble breathing.  If your child is showing any of the above symptoms it is important to contact your child’s doctor so that proper treatments like antiviral medication, oxygen therapy, or medication changes can be initiated to help prevent complications.

An Asthma Action plan is a personalized plan created with your child’s healthcare provider and is essential to keep updated. This plan acts as a road map for asthma symptoms, when to medicate with a prescribed rescue inhaler, and when to seek emergency care.   The action plan will help you understand when to use your child’s rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler is a medication that can quickly open your child’s airways and relieve their symptoms during an asthma attack. You should always carry your child’s rescue inhaler and use it as their doctor directs. If your child’s rescue inhaler does not help or they need to use it more often than usual, it may be a sign that their condition is worsening and that they need emergency care.

RSV can cause dehydration, so keeping your child hydrated and rested is essential for your child’s recovery from RSV and asthma. Signs of dehydration include thirst, dry lips and mouth, fatigue, and irritability. Drinking water may seem boring to children, so using fun, colorful cups with silly straws filled with fruit-infused water, milk, or Pedialyte can help while avoiding soda and juices. Speak to your child’s doctor for the best guidelines on the number of daily ounces.

Viruses are spread through direct contact with infected people. To prevent reinfection or transmission, wash your hands frequently with soap and water and disinfect touched surfaces. Cigarette smoke or vaping exposure can also irritate your child’s lungs and worsen their asthma. If you smoke, it is advised that you quit as soon as possible and encourage all smoking to take place outside or in a designated area away from your child.

Asthma triggers can be found in the child’s environment, so it is essential to avoid exposing your child to asthma triggers or allergens. Triggers or allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, perfume, cold air, or exercise can worsen your child’s asthma symptoms. To avoid triggers or allergens, keep your child indoors when the pollen count is high, use a HEPA filter to clean the air in your home, wash your bedding regularly in hot water, keep pets out of your child’s bedroom, and limit your child’s physical activity when they are sick.

Breathe PA can also help by offering income-based patient assistance programs, including financial support for respiratory medications, air conditioners, nebulizers, pulmonary rehabilitation, an Asthma tool kit with a spacer, peak flow meter, and an Asthma Action Workbook.

RSV and asthma can be a challenging combination for your child. Following the above tips can help them recover and prevent future problems.