We have all been hearing about the Flu this season as Houston has been hit especially hard this year, but let’s discuss an even more common but less talked about virus called RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. In older adults, it goes away within a week or two, but in babies, especially under one year of age, it can lead to the development of pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
Symptoms of RSV
RSV is an infection of the respiratory system. In very young children you might notice that they are more lethargic, not eating as much, irritable, and having difficulty breathing. Older children might have a runny nose, fever, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.
These symptoms can lead to pneumonia, a lung infection, and bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the lung, in young children, which is why it’s important to treat RSV as soon as it’s detected. Symptoms begin to show within 4 to 6 days of exposure to the virus.
How do I prevent RSV?
RSV is best prevented by good hygiene practices. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, particularly if you have a young child at home. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and limit or avoid close contact with those who you know have been exposed. This includes hugging, kissing, and sharing cups or eating utensils.
How is RSV treated?
If you suspect your child has RSV get in to see Dr. Thakkar or Dr. Pankaj immediately. We can do a simple swab in the office that’s let’s us know if your child has RSV right away. While RSV typically heals on its own in a week or two, it’s important that the doctors have a chance to evaluate your little one’s current state, including how well they’re breathing. Hospitalization is sometimes needed for children who are under six months of ages and dehydrated or breathing poorly.
If your child has a routine case of RSV and does not require hospitalization, we recommend you treat any fever with children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Before you do, check our website to make sure you’re giving the proper dosage: Dosage Chart
Is there a vaccine for RSV?
According to the CDC, nearly every child will have had RSV by the time they are two years old. There is a vaccine for RSV, the Synagis vaccine, but it is typically only given to children that are considered high risk from a serious complication from RSV such as premature infants or infants with heart conditions.
Additionally, there’s no antiviral available to treat patients with RSV. If you believe your child has caught RSV, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We see cases on a regular basis and can help you understand how to treat the virus and get your child feeling better. Additionally, we can determine how severe the case is and whether your child might need temporary in-patient treatment to get him or her on track.