What Is The Medical Condition RSV?
RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) is a highly contagious virus that mostly affects the respiratory track of children below 2 years old. To most young patients, it only causes mild cold symptoms that disappears after some time but to some patients, it may develop into serious complications such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia which are both life threatening.
Causes of RSV
Respiratory syncytial virus enters the body through the mouth, nose or the eyes.
It can also be spread when infectious respiratory secretions are inhaled or passed through physical contact. This virus lives for a few hours on objects such as toys and countertops and touching your eyes or nose after touching a contaminated surface can spread the virus.
Symptoms of RSV often appear about four weeks after infection. In older children and adults, it only causes cold like symptoms which include:
- Mild headache
- Sore throat
- Low grade fever
- Dry cough
- Runny or congested nose
RSV can lead to respiratory track illnesses such as bronchiolitis; inflammation of the airway passage entering the lungs or pneumonia. The symptoms include:
- Severe cough
- Bluish skin color due to lack of sufficient oxygen
- Breathing difficulty or rapid breathing
- Wheezing sound especially when exhaling
RSV is easily spread by touching infected surfaces or making contact with infected persons, therefore, it is important to take preventive measures. The following tips will help prevent its spread:
- Wash your hands regularly especially after contacting someone with cold symptoms
- Clean and disinfects countertops, toys and other baby objects.
- Do not allow people to hold the baby without washing their hands.
- Do not kiss the baby if you have a cold.
- Keep the baby away from crowded places
- If possible, keep the baby away from anyone including siblings with cold symptoms.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke near the baby
RSV does not have a vaccine but a medication known as palivizumab is used to protect high risk babies from severe complications though there is no medicine to treat the virus itself. Treatment generally involves self care measures to make the baby more comfortable but in case of severe symptoms, hospitalization maybe required.
Home care treatment for RSV include:
- Using bulb syringe with saline drops to remove sticky nasal fluids
- Keeping the air moist to make breathing easy
- Taking fluid frequently throughout the day
- Taking aspirin fever reducer
Patients who develop severe complications require hospitalization where treatment include:
- Medication to open the airway passage to the lungs
- Humidified oxygen
- Intravenous (IV) fluids