What you need to know about RSV, the surging respiratory disease in children

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Respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, is on the rise Again, to the point that people who work in the health sector are concerned about the saturation of hospital resources. The disease can be serious in babies and the elderly, so read on to find out more about what to know.

What is RSV?

RSV is a virus that causes cold-like symptoms. A runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing are typical, and you may notice that your child isn’t as interested in eating.

For most adults and even most children, RSV is not a big deal. You understand, you cough and sniffle a bit, you get better. The American Association of Pediatrics notes that most people get it at least once before age 2. But it’s especially hard on babies, making it one of the main causes of hospitalization in children under 1 year Age.

Who is at risk of severe illness from RSV?

Premature babies and infants younger than 6 months are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from RSV, the CDC says. The same goes for children with weakened immune systems, congenital heart problems, chronic lung problems, or any other condition that makes it harder to breathe or swallow.

The elderly are also at increased risk. This includes people over 65 and those with weakened immune systems or heart or lung disease.

What are the symptoms to watch out for?

The American Academy of Pediatrics describe RSV first causes a cold with mild symptoms, then sometimes progresses to bronchiolitis, which is more serious. Symptoms of a cold include fever, cough, congestion, irritability, or difficulty eating. (If your child is 3 months old or less, and has a temperature above 100.4, call a doctor immediately. Infections that can cause fever are especially dangerous in this age group.)

Bronchiolitis can include the symptoms above, as well as signs that your child is having trouble breathing. These may include rapid breathing, grunting noises, wheezing, or a chest that seems to collapse with each breath. A lack of oxygen can also cause the lips or other areas of the skin to look bluish. If your baby has trouble breathing, get medical help right away.

The AAP recommends calling your child’s doctor if you notice any of the above signs of bronchiolitis or if he shows signs of dehydration like less than one wet diaper in every eighth. hours or if they are abnormally lethargic.

RSV symptoms usually last for five at seven o ‘clock days, but an illness that lasts more than seven days is also worth asking the doctor. (Sometimes that means RSV started with a cold and progressed to an ear infection.)

Are there tests and treatments for RSV?

If your child is doing well, especially if they are over 3 months old, they will usually not be tested specifically for RSV. You will know they have a respiratory virus and you should wait. But if a child is very sick, he may need to be hospitalized. Care is generally “supportive”, which means it can receive fluids and help with breathing. There is no specific treatment for RSV, but there is a test that can detect it. (Your child will likely be tested for more than one thing – for example, it’s good to know if they’re dealing with RSV, influenza, or COVID, all of which have specific tests that are available to doctors.)

There is not (yet) a vaccine against RSV. If your child is immunocompromised, there is an antibody treatment called palivizumab that can reduce their risk of getting the disease. (If your child is a candidate for this, your doctor will likely mention it.)

How to Prevent RSV

None of this will come as a surprise, but the way to reduce your risk of getting RSV (or your child’s risk, or your aging parent’s risk) are the usual ways to prevent diseases like a cold:

  • Wash your hands and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Do not be in close contact with sick people
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Clean surfaces

COVID precautions also work well against RSV, including wearing masks. But RSV is more likely than COVID to hitchhike on hands or surfaces, hence the extra focus on these for prevention.

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