Have you heard of RSV? It’s a common respiratory illness that impacts many young children, but it’s not yet a household name. In fact, 97 percent of children contract RSV, which stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, before turning two. Unfortunately, this common illness can also lead to hospitalization and does pose the small threat of death if not handled appropriately.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus causes upper respiratory infections, like the common cold, and lower respiratory tract problems like pneumonia. It’s high contagious, and while many infected young children will recover without any problems, it has the potential to lead to more serious issues.
Who Poses the Highest Risk of an RSV Infection?
Though it’s medically possible to get RSV at any age, infants, premature babies, and children with congenital heart disease and compromised immune systems are most likely to suffer from RSV. Most cases pop up between November and April.
What Does RSV Look Like?
RSV is challenging to immediately identify because it begins very much like the common cold. When the virus spreads to the breathing tubes of the lower respiratory tract, it can cause bronchitis or pneumonia and make breathing very difficult. This form of RSV is often paired with an ear infection.
Difficulty breathing, high fever, and a blue-ish skin hue are all reason enough to head for the hospital or nearest urgent care center. Other warning symptoms that could warrant a visit to the doctor include wheezing, wet-sounding coughing, and unusual decrease in appetite.
Treatments and Prevention
Though there’s no single magic remedy for RSV, doctors can effectively treat its symptoms to help the body recover to full health. Hydration, breathing treatments, and oxygen can help.
The most effective medicine, however, is prevention. Since RSV is spread by direct contact, simple measures like hand washing and sanitation can be enough to stop the illness in its tracks.