What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

, Health A2Z

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are mainly viruses that cause lung and respiratory infections. It is so common that most children were infected with the virus when they were 2 years old. Respiratory syncytial also known as the sin-SISH-ul virus can also infect adults. What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

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In adults and older healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and often simulate colds. In RSV, only self-care measures are needed to relieve its symptoms.

RSV can also cause severe infections in some people, especially preterm, babies, elderly, and adults with heart and lung disease, or those with a very weak immune system (immunocompromised).

Adults with RSV may have symptoms of a cold, such as a stuffy nose or a runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever and a general malaise. But in premature babies and children with diseases that affect the lungs, the heart or the immune system, RSV infections can cause other, more serious diseases.

RSV is very contagious and spreads through the droplets that contain the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It can also live on surfaces (such as countertops or door handles) and on hands and clothing so it can spread easily when someone touches something soiled.

 What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Symptoms: 

Several signs and symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infection are those that most commonly appear about three to six days after exposure to the virus. In adults and adult children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs. These signs include:

  • Congested or a runny nose
  • A dry cough
  • Low-grade fever
  • A sore throat
  • A mild headache

But in severe cases, the virus infection can also spread to the lower respiratory tract that further causes pneumonia or bronchiolitis- which are mainly defined as an inflammation of the small airway passages that enters the lungs. Its signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • A severe cough
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen (known as cyanosis)

RDV mostly affects infants. A person may notice his/her infant’s chest skin and muscles pull inward with each breath. This is a sign that the infant is struggling to breathe. Its other signs and symptoms include:

  • Short, shallow and rapid breathing
  • A cough
  • Unusual tiredness (lethargy)
  • Poor feeding
  • Irritability

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Causes 

RSV is the most common germ that causes lung and respiratory infections in infants and young children. Most babies had this infection when they are 2 years old. Outbreaks of RSV infections usually begin during the spring.

Infections can occur in people of all ages. The syncytial virus spreads through small droplets that are usually released into the air when a sick person coughs, flies or sneezes.

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A person can catch RSV if:

  • A person with the virus sneeze, cough or blows their nose near you.
  • You touch or shake hands with someone who is infected by the RSV.
  • You touch your nose, mouth or eyes after you have touched someone or something is contaminated by the virus, such as a doorknob or toy.
  • RSV often spreads quickly in crowded daycare centers and households. The virus can live approximately for a half an hour or more than that on hands.


The following reasons increase the risk for RSV:

  • Attending daycare.
  • Being near tobacco smoke.
  • Having school-aged sisters or brothers.
  • Living in crowded conditions.


Prevention of Respiratory Syncytial Virus:

There is no vaccine for the respiratory syncytial virus. But some common precautions can help in preventing the spread of the infection:

  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Avoid exposure to infected people
  • Keeping things clean.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses with others.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Washing infants’ toys regularly.

Treatment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus:

Luckily, most cases of RSV are mild and require no specific treatment from physicians or doctors. In the case of RSV, antibiotics cannot be used because RSV is a virus and antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Doctors sometimes provide medication to help open airways.

The RSV infection can be more serious in babies. In most of the cases, infants need treatment in a hospital, where they can be watched closely and receive fluids if needed, and are also provide the treatment for any breathing problems.

At home, if a child is suffering from the RSV infection, then parents should make the child as comfortable as possible, by providing plenty of fluids.

To help the child breathe easier, parents can also use a cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist during the winter months. A child should avoid hot-water and steam humidifiers because it can be hazardous and can also cause scalding.

If the child is uncomfortable and too young to blow his or her own nose, then parents can use a nasal aspirator to remove sticky nasal fluids.

You can also treat a fever by using a nonaspirin fever medicine such as acetaminophen. Aspirin should be avoided in children with viral illnesses because these are used when associated with Reye syndrome.

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