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What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

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What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

Keeping Your Little Ones Safe from RSV

As cold weather approaches, you may be preparing your family to protect themselves against conditions such as the flu— but if you have young children, you know that it's vital to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as well. RSV may sound like a scary virus, but it's actually quite common in young children during the winter months. Keep reading to learn more about what RSV is, what symptoms to look out for, and when to seek medical care for your little one.

What is RSV?

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common viral infection that affects the lungs and breathing passages. It is most commonly found in young children but also can affect adults with weakened immune systems. RSV is most common during the winter months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation in the small airways of the lung) and pneumonia in children under one year old. In adults over aged 65, RSV also is a major cause of severe lower respiratory tract infections. Each year, approximately 57,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized due to RSV. However, almost all children will have been infected with RSV by their second birthday.

Common Symptoms of RSV

Common symptoms of RSV include coughing, wheezing, fever and difficulty breathing. These symptoms often can be mistaken for a cold or the flu, but it's important to pay attention to any severe symptoms such as fast or troubled breathing, and seek medical care if necessary.

In severe cases, RSV can lead to pneumonia or even death. Symptoms may require hospitalization and breathing support such as oxygen or a ventilator. Currently, there is no specific treatment for RSV, but symptoms can be managed with supportive care.

Causes of RSV

RSV spreads through contact with respiratory secretions such as saliva or mucus from coughing or sneezing. Also, it can spread through touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one's face. Therefore, the best way to prevent RSV is by practicing good hygiene and handwashing.

When to Seek Medical Care for RSV

It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that your child may have RSV. If your child is less than three months old and showing symptoms of RSV, it's best to call their pediatrician immediately or seek emergency care.

Pediatric Care in Northeast Ohio

The Southwest General Medical Group, Inc. includes physicians and pediatricians who are committed to providing patients of all ages with high-quality medical care. Additionally, Rainbow Pediatric Emergency Services are now available at both our Main Campus ER and Brunswick ER. To learn more about our primary and specialty care services, visit our website.