RSV: What is it, and does my child have it?

RSV: What is it, and does my child have it?

January 1, 2023

What is RSV?

The respiratory syncytial virus can cause severe lower respiratory tract infections. It is one of the primary causes of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants, children, and adults over 65 years old. RSV typically occurs in epidemics from late fall to early spring.

The virus is highly contagious and spreads through contact with droplets and respiratory secretions. RSV can also be spread through touching contaminated surfaces or objects, such as doorknobs, toys, or countertops. Children are more likely to catch RSV than adults, so parents need to watch out for signs of infection in their children quickly. If your child has symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, fever or chills, runny nose, and red eyes—or both—you should seek urgent care for RSV immediately.

There are several risk factors for developing RSV infection. These include:

  • Age: Infants and young children are at the highest risk for RSV infection. This is because their immune systems are not yet fully developed, and they are more predisposed to the virus through close contact with other children.

  • Premature birth: Babies born before 37 weeks are at increased risk for RSV infection due to their immature lungs and immune systems.

  • Chronic lung diseases: Conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma can increase the risk of developing RSV infection. This is because they affect your breathing and make it difficult for the lungs to clear out secretions and fight off infections.

  • Weakened immune system: Conditions like cancer or HIV/AIDS, and other infections affect your immune system and reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections

What are the Symptoms?

  • Cold symptoms: These are the most common symptoms of RSV, including a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing.

  • Cough: The cough is usually dry with no sputum (mucus). It can be accompanied by wheezing or chest tightness.

  • Fever: Your child may feel warmer than usual; sometimes, it can be as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). However, not everyone with RSV develops a fever or feels sick enough to need immediate treatment.

What are the Complications of RSV?

Untreated RSV can lead to other health problems like:

  • Bronchitis

  • Bronchitis occurs when the bronchi become inflamed, leading to difficulty breathing and coughing. When bronchitis becomes chronic, it may lead to more serious complications like frequent and severe airway infections and lung cancer.

  • Pneumonia

  • Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition in the lungs. It can be acute or chronic. Acute pneumonia progresses quickly and may last up to a few weeks, while chronic pneumonia lasts more than three months. Acute pneumonia is more serious than chronic pneumonia because it is more likely to lead to complications like sepsis and respiratory failure.

How is RSV Diagnosed?

RSV can be diagnosed with a simple nasal swab test. This will determine if your child has RSV and whether they have symptoms like difficulty breathing or wheezing.

What are the Treatment Options for RSV?

The most common treatment for RSV is antibiotics, which can be given to children. Antibiotics help prevent complications such as pneumonia and middle-ear infections. However, because this medication can have side effects on the baby’s body (such as diarrhea), it’s important to discuss the risks with your healthcare provider before giving them.

Supportive care is recommended if your child has mild symptoms that don’t require immediate medical attention or if they’re older than two months old and still show no signs that they’ve been infected with RSV.

When to Go to the ER?

Visit an urgent care clinic in Houston. If your child is having difficulty breathing, has a fever over 101 degrees, has trouble eating or drinking, has seizures or convulsions, or has been exposed to someone with RSV.

How Can You Prevent the Spread of RSV?

The primary way to prevent the spread of RSV is by staying home when you’re sick. This will help reduce the number of people around you and increase your chances of being healthy again. You should also wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your nose and mouth with other germs on them (for example, if someone sneezes), and avoid sharing food or drinks with sick people.

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Sunrise Urgent Care Center for more information about RSV and how to prevent it.

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