Respiratory Syncytial Virus : Symptoms, Treatment

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A brief understanding of Respiratory Syncytial Virus: 

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that is very contagious and often infects young children before their second birthday. This virus only causes a cold in most babies and children, but for those at risk of serious harm, RSV can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus
Respiratory Syncytial Virus

RSV can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in children. Most children have RSV by age two. Children with certain medical conditions are at high risk for a severe RSV infection.

However, for a small percentage of children, the virus can cause serious problems such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which is an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. Children usually contract the respiratory syncytial virus by age 2. Respiratory syncytium is a common and very contagious disease that affects most children before their second birthday.

Also Read: Malaria Prevention and Treatments: Why We Must Fight To End Malaria

Quick Takeaway:

  • RSV is a common respiratory virus. It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But it can cause serious lung infection and is more prevalent among the very young, elderly, and those with other health conditions.

Signs & Symptoms of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

RSV can affect people of all ages and is very common in small children by age 2. RSV infection usually occurs during fall, winter, and spring. Certain people are at higher risk of having a severe RSV infection such as infants, older adults (especially those 65 and older), and people with chronic medical conditions or problems with the immune system.

  • RSV causes cold-like symptoms (runny nose, cough) that usually last 1 to 2 weeks. The common symptoms of RSV include a runny nose, a decrease in appetite, cough, and fever.
  • If you notice any of the following RSV symptoms: high-pitched sound when breathing in and out, your baby will not eat or drink, having trouble breathing or pauses in breaths, signs of dehydration (lack of tears when crying, little to no urine for 6 hours) then contact the doctor for more information.
  • These symptoms mostly consist of stages with young infants showing only irritability or trouble breathing. Other risk factors often cause severe infections like bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
  • RSV can come with bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and dehydration in addition in premature babies, small infants, and immune-compromised children.
  • What causes RSV in babies? When a child comes into contact with fluid from an infected person’s nose or mouth, they can get the disease RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus Diagnosis: RSV tests you should consider doing

  • A doctor may use many tools to make a diagnosis, including taking a medical history, doing a physical exam, and running lab tests. They may do an x-ray and tests to check for complications.
  • The doctor will look at your child’s medical history and perform a physical exam, which includes checking for signs of dehydration and pneumonia. Tests for RSV include Blood and urine tests to look for signs of bacteria, Chest X-rays to check for any signs of pneumonia, and scrapings from inside their nose or mouth.

Respiratory syncytial virus Treatment: Treatments for respiratory syncytial virus vary from treatment to no treatment as many mild cases don’t need to be treated. Some individuals might go to a hospital, where they can get fluids and medical care if needed.

Though there is not a specific treatment for RSV infection, most of the time it goes away in a week or two. The body might need pain relievers or fever reduction methods. Without proper fluid intake, some people may require hospitalization. During this time, you might provide the patient with oxygen, a breathing tube, or a ventilator.

Palivizumab is widely considered to be more effective than the other available treatments for RSV infections. However, medication options against RSV itself do not exist, and doctors seldom prescribe it to treat the virus. There are, however, ways to use palivizumab to prevent serious complications of RSV infection.

Caregivers can provide care at home, continuously clearing nasal fluids and using a vaporizer to keep moisture in the air. Make sure your child is comfortable at home. Stay close, provide fluids and relax when they are not feeling well.

During colds and tummy aches, it is best to avoid aspirins and other fever meds. Saline nose sprays or drops are safe to use on children 3 months and over.

Avoid ibuprogens if the child is under 6 months old due to the risk of Reye syndrome if they contract a virus they are immune to. Be sure your nasal sprays are saline.

Respiratory syncytial virus Preventions: We do not have an RSV vaccine, but you can reduce your risk of getting RSV or spreading it to other people by:

To avoid getting sick, you should wash your hands often, avoid touching others who have the illness, and stay home if you are sick. The best way to do that is to stay home. Or you could use a tissue.

Four steps to try and prevent RSV are avoiding kissing your baby if you have cold symptoms, cleaning and disinfecting all hard surfaces, don’t let anyone smoke around your baby, and keeping your baby away from any children who have cold symptoms.

A medication called palivizumab may protect some babies from serious RSV complications.

When to Call a Doctor:

If your child shows any of the following symptoms, contact their pediatrician right away as they may have RSV: a high-pitched whistling or wheezing noise when they breathe. Being unusually upset or inactive. Cough with yellow, green, or gray mucus. Trouble breathing or pauses in their breaths. If your baby is very tired, breathes rapidly, has difficulty in breathing, or has a blue tint to their lips or fingernails call your doctor.

Also Read: 8 Types of Respiratory Diseases & Causes

FAQs related to Respiratory syncytial virus

1) What helps relieve RSV symptoms?

To lower fever and relieve pain, take over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Drink plenty of fluids.

2) How do you treat RSV at home?

The air should be moist to breathe. Drink fluids and continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your infant as usual. Saline nasal drops are helpful, over-the-counter pain relievers work, and you should steer clear of cigarette smoke.

3) What medicine cures RSV?

Two drugs have been approved for RSV. One is a monoclonal antibody taken before exposure and the other is used to treat severe RSV disease; however, its effectiveness in improving outcomes is questionable.

4) How do you get rid of RSV in adults?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for RSV in adults, and the disease has no vaccine currently. But several vaccines are being made to protect older adults at increased risk of serious RSV outcomes, which include old-aged adults.

5) How serious is RSV?

RSV is most common in children, as well as older adults. Infants are more prone to catching RSV than older children, and 2 out of 3 people will get better within a week or two.

6) Is RSV related to Covid?

There is some evidence that the rise in RSV (a virus that causes respiratory illness) may be due in part to the relaxing of coronavirus prevention steps such as masks and social distancing. It may also be that because people have less exposure to RSV and other viruses due to these precautions, they have less immune protection.

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