Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very prevalent virus, which causes upper and lower respiratory infections. It’s a highly contagious infectious disease, with the ability to live on surfaces for several hours.
Most children have been infected with the respiratory syncytial virus before age 2. Generally, RSV occurs as epidemic outbreak in the fall through spring, causing symptoms for up to a couple of weeks.
RSV germ typically causes mild common cold resembling symptoms. Yet, it can produce a more serious health risk for babies and young children with diseases affecting their lungs, heart or immune system. Also, it can be dangerous for the elderly, those with a compromised immune system and chronic heart or lung problem sufferers.
Typical symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infection for adults and children over 3 include:
Those at risk for a more serious form of RSV infection, these additional symptoms may be involved:
- high fever
- nasal flaring
- “seal bark” cough
- difficulty breathing
- decrease in appetite
- severe, productive cough
For infants and young children experiencing their first respiratory syncytial virus infection, RSV can cause:
There’s a potential link between a severe case of respiratory syncytial virus and the development of asthma.
Respiratory syncytial virus treatment usually involves symptom relief. OTC acetaminophen or ibuprofen help reduce fever and headaches, but won’t cure your infection. Electrolyte-replacment drinks help prevent dehydration. And children should never be given an aspirin to relieve symptoms.
Severe cases of RSV may require hospitalization to assist with breathing. Unless otherwise directed by your health care provider, never use antivirals nor antibiotics to treat respiratory syncytial virus infections.