Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

June 1, 2022

Are you covering your cough and sneezing, washing your hands, and staying at home when sick? These actions help minimize the spread of common respiratory diseases such as influenza, coronavirus, and colds. In addition, the respiratory syncytial virus should be on your radar to help you and your loved ones stay well. This is a growing concern, especially for infants, immunocompromised and older adults.

RSV is a common cause of acute respiratory illness. Sometimes its symptoms can be similar to those of a cold. It’s highly contagious and is a seasonal lung infection. It is common in childhood. Severe conditions can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

This is a common respiratory virus. It affects the lungs and bronchioles. RSV infects most children when they are two years of age. However, it affects adults too.

If your child is healthy and is infected with RSV, they’ll get a mild case with cold-like symptoms. Only comfort or self-care is needed. However, severe infections can lead to pneumonia and may need hospital care. People who are at significant risk of severe infection are those children under the age of six months and those over 65 years. Also, people of any age who have heart or lung conditions or have a weak immune system are at high risk. Also, RSV can worsen existing heart and lung problems.

IS RSV Contagious? How Is It Spread and How Long Does It Last?

RSV is very contagious, especially during the three to seven days when one has symptoms. However, some infants and people with weak immune systems can remain contagious even for four weeks.

The virus is spread when one is in close contact with another person or when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Also, when the virus becomes airborne and gets to the body through the nose, eyes, or mouth. It also spreads when one touches objects with the virus and then you touch your face.

It takes up to eight days from the time the person was exposed to the RSV for the symptoms to show. Symptoms last for three to seven days. Most children recover fully in one or two weeks. If your child is infected, you should visit urgent care for kids near you for treatment.

Who Gets Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection?

RSV infects almost every child before they turn two years. Most of the time, the infection causes minor symptoms. However, the infection can be dangerous for some babies and certain adults.

RSV in adults and infants can lead to severe life-threatening infections. These people are:

  • Infants born with lung or heart disease.
  • Premature infants. This is because their lungs are underdeveloped.
  • Children who can’t clear mucous or have difficulty swallowing
  • Children with weak immune systems, including those undergoing chemotherapy or receiving an organ transplant

Signs and Symptoms of RSV in Infants

When you notice these common symptoms with your infant, bring them to our pediatric urgent in Richmond, TX, for treatment:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever where temperatures are above 100 Fahrenheit
  • Decrease in appetite

Symptoms in the youngest infants include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Reduced activity or more tired than usual
  • Fussiness

These symptoms of severe RSV in infants should get you going to the urgent care near you. They include:

  • Your infant has a poor appetite
  • Shallow, short, and rapid breathing
  • Spreading out of nostrils with every breath
  • Wheezing which can be a sign of pneumonia
  • Belly breathing
  • Bluish coloring of mouth, fingertips, and lips

How is RSV diagnosed?

Our Sunrise Urgent Care Center healthcare provider will take your child’s medical history and ask about symptoms. Then, they’ll listen to your child’s lungs and check the oxygen level in a simple finger monitoring test. They’ll also order blood testing for checking any signs of infection.

If they suspect severe illness, they’ll order imaging tests to check your child’s lungs.

How is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Treated?

If your child has mild symptoms, they usually go away after two weeks, so prescription treatment is unnecessary. However, you should get RSV treatment near you if your child develops bronchiolitis to get oxygen treatment. If your child cannot drink because of rapid breathing, they may need to receive intravenous fluids to stay hydrated.

If you are an older adult with severe RSV, you may need to be hospitalized. You may receive oxygen in the hospital.

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