What is RSV infection?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects lungs and respiratory tract and cause infection. Most children are infected by this virus by the age of 2. This infection is more common in children and infants than in adults. In most cases, the respiratory syncytial virus causes mild, common cold-like infection in adults and healthy children. Severe infection can happen in the case of premature babies, and infants, having some intrinsic health problems. Older adults with heart or lung disorders, and immunocompromised (with very weak immune systems) people are also at risk of developing serious RSV infection.
Are you one among them? Visit CareFirst 360, Mansfield medical clinic immediately.
What are the complications of RSV infection?
The complications of RSV infection include –
- Premature born children, children with congenital (present at birth) heart or lung problems, and infants under 6 months, can suffer from breathing trouble because of severe RSV infection
- Infants, young children, immunocompromised people (HIV-AIDS), and people having chronic heart or lung problems can develop pneumonia or bronchiolitis, as a result of RSV infection
- Infiltration of the virus into the space behind the eardrum can lead to a middle ear infection
- Can develop asthma in the later stage of life
- Can cause recurring infections which can become serious in older adults, or people with chronic heart and lung disease
- After taking entry into our body through our eyes, nose, or mouth, the respiratory syncytial virus spreads easily through respiratory secretions like coughing or sneezing. The viruses are inhaled or passed from one person to another through direct contacts, such as shaking hands.
- RSV can survive for hours on surfaces of objects like countertops and toys. Infection of RSV can spread by touching the mouth, nose, or eyes, after touching a contaminated object.
- A person is most contagious during the first few days of getting the infection. The spreading of the virus continues for a few weeks after the start of the infection.
Risk factors include –
- Infants below 6 months
- Under 1 year children who are prematurely born, or children born with heart or lung diseases
- Children whose immune system has been weakened by chemotherapy or organ transplantation
- Children who spend time in a crowded daycare
- Adults above 65 years of age
- People having congestive heart failure, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Immunodeficient (having low immunity) individuals like those who have undergone organ transplantation, apart from leukemia or HIV/AIDS patients.
Symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infection vary depending on age. Symptoms typically show up within 4 to 6 days after exposure to the virus. It commonly causes mild cold-like symptoms in older children and adults including –
- Nasal congestion
- Dry cough
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
- Mild headache
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms of a severe infection include –
- Severe cough
- Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, which worsens in lying position, and compels the child to remain seated
- Bluish skin coloration due to lack of oxygen
Test & Diagnosis:
The doctor will conduct a physical examination, in which he/she may listen to the lung sound with a stethoscope to check for wheezing or other abnormal sounds.
Diagnosis methods include –
- Monitoring of skin (pulse oximetry) which measures the level of available oxygen in the bloodstream. It is a painless procedure.
- Carrying out blood tests to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria, or some other organism, or to check white blood cell counts.
- Performing chest X-rays to detect pneumonia
- Checking the presence of the virus in the respiratory secretions from the nose. The test is carried out in the lab, in which, a nasal swab is taken in and sent for testing. Within less than an hour, the results become available.
- RSV, being a virus, can’t be treated with medications like antibiotics.
- In many cases, RSV healed itself without treatment by taking sufficient rest and drinking plenty of fluids. You may also experience signs of dehydration, like dry mouth, sunken eyes, little to no urine output, and extreme sleepiness
- Over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen reduces fever. You may be prescribed an antibiotic if there’s any bacterial infection like bacterial pneumonia.
- Regular suctioning of mucus from the nose with a rubber bulb relieves congestion in the affected babies.
- In children of age 1, RSV can cause more serious infections leading to bronchiolitis (inflammation of the bronchioles or small airways) and pneumonia. In this situation, the patient needs hospitalization and treatment like intravenous fluids, oxygen, and humidified air. In extremely severe cases, ventilation may be required.
- in some severe cases, a nebulized bronchodilator such as albuterol may be used to relieve wheezing.
- Occasionally, a nebulized form of ribavirin, an antiviral agent, may be used. Your doctor may also recommend an injection of epinephrine or a form of epinephrine that can be inhaled through a nebulizer to relieve symptoms of RSV infection
For urgent care services, make sure to visit CareFirst 360, Mansfield Urgent Care Clinic right away. This reputed Mansfield medical clinic will evaluate your condition and recommend the right treatment.