How Metapneumovirus Is Treated

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Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is one of many viruses that can cause an upper respiratory infection. It usually produces the symptoms of the common cold, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, and mild fever.

In most people, symptoms show up and go away without treatment. Some at-home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) therapies can help with symptoms and ease discomfort. Still, no medicine can “cure” this upper respiratory infection.

Person at home with cold symptoms drinking tea

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In some people, hMPV can develop into a lower respiratory tract infection, affecting the airways and lungs. In rare cases, it may require hospitalization and medical treatment. 

This article will look at the treatment options for human metapneumovirus infection, including home remedies, OTC treatments, prescription drugs, and more.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle 

It’s common for people to push themselves when they believe their symptoms are those of a mild cold, including by continuing to go to work or powering through tasks despite feeling ill. While metapneumovirus doesn’t cause complications in most people, it still requires rest to get over the illness.

Because there’s no cure for metapneumovirus, you’ll have to ride it out until symptoms subside. Symptoms associated with hPMV usually clear up in a few days.

Things you can do at home that may help ease symptoms include:

  • Using a humidifier to prevent dry skin and cough
  • Drinking lots of fluids to remain hydrated 
  • Not engaging in strenuous activity
  • Saline nose drops or sprays to help with congestion 
  • Nasal suctioning for infants 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies 

While no medications can quickly get rid of human metapneumovirus symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help ease discomfort, fever, body aches, and congestion. These may include:

  • Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen) 
  • Decongestants (reduce congestion): Such as those containing pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine

It’s important to note that this virus is particularly common in children and infants, and many OTC products are not safe for use in young children under age 2. It’s crucial to carefully read the label before giving any OTC medication to children.

OTC Medications and Children

Not all medications are safe for everyone to take. Many OTC drugs can cause serious harm to children
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that cold and cough medicines that contain decongestants and antihistamines can cause serious complications in children under 2 years old, including death. 
The FDA also recommends being cautious when giving these products to children over age 2. It’s important to read labels carefully, give the appropriate dose, and follow a safe dosing schedule. Also, avoid mixing products since many contain similar ingredients.

If you’re unsure whether giving your child an OTC medication is safe, don’t hesitate to ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider. They may be able to provide you with recommendations for alternative therapies.


If you have asthma (a chronic condition of inflammation and constriction of the airways), you may need to use your prescription inhaler to help with breathing problems that develop during your illness. 

Additionally, your healthcare provider may prescribe another type of inhaler containing corticosteroids to manage symptom flare-ups.

There’s no vaccine available to prevent or treat human metapneumovirus. Additionally, no approved medical treatment exists, such as antiviral medications, for hMPV. Initial animal studies suggest there is some benefit in using immunoglobulins (immune proteins) and ribavirin (an antiviral drug).

Some anecdotal or isolated reports suggest ribavirin may help ease symptoms in people who develop severe complications from hMPV. For example, a case study from 2013 found that one immunocompromised 2-year-old recovered quickly and completely when treated with oral ribavirin and IV immunoglobulin.

One small 2020 study involving 24 patients with hMPV found that oral ribavirin had a protective effect. But the addition of intravenous (IV) immunoglobulin had no benefit. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of both therapies.

Specialist-Driven Procedures

Some people develop lower respiratory complications of metapneumovirus such as bronchitis (inflammation of the larger airways), bronchiolitis (inflammation of the smallest airways), or pneumonia (inflammation of the airways and air sacs).

The most severe cases require hospitalization. Some patients may need mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen therapy.


There’s no cure for the common cold, including symptoms caused by human metapneumovirus. Most people's symptoms are mild and clear up within a few days without medical treatment. Some people may choose to take over-the-counter (OTC) medications like cough syrup, decongestants, and Tylenol to help with symptoms.

Severe complications affecting the lungs and airways may develop that require hospitalization and breathing support.

A Word From Verywell 

There’s no way to get rid of human metapneumovirus symptoms aside from waiting them out. During this time, it’s important to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to those around you. 

Prevention is especially important if you live or frequently interact with someone who is immunocompromised (has a weakened immune system), such as an older adult or someone undergoing cancer treatment. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and avoid sharing cups and utensils to avoid spreading—or picking up—the virus. 

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American College of Chest Physicians CHEST Foundation. Treating hMPV.

  3. Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Human metapneumovirus (hMPV).

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Use caution when giving cough and cold products to kids.

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  8. Akhmedov, M, Wais, V, Sala, E, et al.. Respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus after allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: impact of the immunodeficiency scoring index, viral load, and ribavirin treatment on the outcomes. Transplant Infect Dis. 2020;22(4):e13276. doi:10.1111/tid.13276

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By Steph Coelho
Steph Coelho is a freelance health writer, web producer, and editor based in Montreal. She specializes in covering general wellness and chronic illness.