What is RSV? RVS manifests when a child has cold-like symptoms. Whether this is your first experience with RSV or you just want to know more about this news-making virus, take a look at the top questions you may want to ask a pediatrician.
What Does RSV Stand For?
The acronym RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. As the full name implies, this virus affects the child's respiratory system. While anyone of any age can get RSV, this virus is most common in infants and young children.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), premature infants, babies under six months, toddlers two and under with chronic lung conditions, toddlers two and under with congenital heart disease, children who have weakened immune systems, and children who have neuromuscular disorders that make it hard to clear mucus secretions or swallow are most at risk for RSV.
How Do Children Get RSV?
Like other respiratory viruses, RSV is spread through droplets that enter the nose, mouth, or eyes. When a child (or adult) with RSV sneezes or coughs, the motion propels viral droplets into the air. A child who is nearby may breathe in the viral particles or the virus may enter through the eyes. RSV is also spread by touching infected objects, such as a doorknob, table, or toy.
What Symptoms Can RSV Cause?
Many children will experience mild cold-like respiratory symptoms with RSV. These may include a runny nose, fever, or cough. But some symptoms may progress into a more severe case of the virus. Infants and children with moderate or severe RSV may have a persistent cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, poor feeding, or lethargy and fatigue.
When Should You Call the Pediatrician?
If your child has any RSV symptoms, acts out of character, or is unusually irritable, or you have any concerns about their health, call the pediatrician's office as soon as possible. Difficulty breathing, wheezing, a high fever, or bluish skin tone (the result of a low oxygen level) require immediate intervention. Infants and children with these types of severe symptoms need emergency medical treatment.
How Will the Pediatrician Diagnose RSV?
The doctor will need to examine your child and learn more about their symptoms before they make a positive diagnosis. If your child has difficulty breathing, severe coughing, or wheezing, the pediatrician may order additional testing or a chest x-ray.
Is RSV Treatable?
Like other viral infections, RSV typically resolves on its own. The pediatrician may recommend infant/children's fever reducers, such as acetaminophen. Severe infection may require IV fluids, oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or hospitalization for supportive care.