Living Well: Symptoms may signal trouble — Respiratory syncytial virus common this time of year
A cough that won’t stop, trouble breathing, and a fever are all symptoms that should trigger a visit to your doctor. Our community is seeing more cases of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, this winter, so know the symptoms.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold symptoms and usually occurs during fall, winter, and spring. RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger age 1. It is also a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most RSV infections go away on their own in one to two weeks. Over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help manage fever and pain. It is also important to drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration.
It is essential to keep infants’ nostrils clear of secretions. This is especially important for infants younger than 6 months who have not yet learned to breathe through their mouths. When their nostrils are restricted, they struggle to intake fluids, and this leads to dehydration.
“We are seeing an uptick in RSV cases in our youngest population,” said Memorial Regional Health Pediatrician Linda Couillard. “In some cases, we are recommending a visit to our suction clinic to give infants some immediate relief by clearing their nasal passages.”
RSV is easily spread by sneezing, coughing, kissing, touching, and hugging, or touching door knobs, counter tops, grocery carts, and toys. It’s important to clean surfaces and wash hands often with soap and water. RSV is contagious for eight to 10 days, or as long as symptoms are present. It’s important to keep the sick patient home and away from others.
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