What Can I Do If My Child Is Sick
- Keep your child as comfortable as possible and offer plenty of fluids.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever. Ibuprofen should only be given if your child is drinking reasonably well. Do not give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old without first talking to your doctor.
- If your baby is having trouble drinking, try to clear nasal congestion gently with a bulb syringe or with saline nose drops.
- Do not give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to a child younger than 6 years old. Although these drugs do not need a doctors prescription, they are not safe in young children.
- If you are using cough and cold medicines for children older than 6 years, read instructions carefully and give only the recommended dose.
How Is It Treated
RSV usually goes away on its own. For most people, home treatment is all that is needed. If your child has RSV:
- Prop up your child’s head to make it easier to breathe and sleep.
- Suction your baby’s nose if he or she can’t breathe well enough to eat or sleep.
- Relieve fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if needed. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Never give aspirin to someone younger than 20 years, because it can cause Reye syndrome, a serious but rare problem.
When a person with RSV is otherwise healthy, symptoms usually get better in a week or two.
RSV can be serious when the symptoms are very bad or when it leads to other problems, like pneumonia. Certain people are more likely to have problems with RSV:
- Babies younger than 6 months, especially those born early
- People with immune system problems
- People with heart or lung problems
- Adults older than 65
These people sometimes need treatment in a hospital. So it’s important to watch the symptoms and call your doctor if they get worse.
How Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Treated
If you or your child has mild symptoms, prescription treatment is usually not needed. RSV goes away on its own in one to two weeks. Antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections, including those caused by RSV.
Some young children who develop bronchiolitis may have to be hospitalized to receive oxygen treatment. If your child is unable to drink because of rapid breathing, he or she may need to receive intravenous fluids to stay hydrated. On rare occasions, infected babies will need a respirator to help them breathe. Only about 3% of children with RSV require a hospital stay. Most children are able to go home from the hospital in two or three days.
If you are an older adult and especially if you have a weakened immune system, you may need to be hospitalized if the RSV is severe. While in the hospital, you may receive oxygen or be put on a breathing machine to help your breathe or receive IV fluids to help with dehydration.
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Rsv In Older Adults And Adults With Chronic Medical Conditions
RSV infections can be dangerous for certain adults. Each year, it is estimated that more than 177,000 older adults are hospitalized and 14,000 of them die in the United States due to RSV infection. Adults at highest risk for severe RSV infection include
- Older adults, especially those 65 years and older
- Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
- Adults with weakened immune systems
When an adult gets RSV infection, they typically have mild cold-like symptoms. But RSV can sometimes lead to serious conditions such as
- More severe symptoms for people with asthma
- More severe symptoms for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Congestive heart failure
Older adults who get very sick from RSV may need to be hospitalized. Some may even die. Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weaken when we are older.
RSV season occurs each year in most regions of the U.S. during fall, winter, and spring. If you are at high risk for severe RSV infection, or if you interact with an older adult, you should take extra care to keep them healthy:
There is no vaccine to prevent RSV infection yet, but scientists are working hard to develop one. If you are concerned about your risk for RSV, talk to your healthcare provider.
What To Think About
- Ribavirin is an antiviral medicine that is very rarely used to treat people with RSV infections who have a high risk of developing complications. Studies so far have provided conflicting evidence regarding its effectiveness. The doctor will consider the particular circumstances of the person being treated before making a recommendation about ribavirin.
- Bronchodilators are typically not used, but they may be tried for babies who are having trouble breathing. The medicine can be continued if it helps.
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How Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur
According to the CDC, each year, at least 2.8 million people in the U.S. become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 35,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.
In general terms, antibiotic resistance can occur when bacteria learn to fight off the antibiotic.
- Antibiotics work by interfering with the bacterial cell wall and prevent bacteria from making copies of themselves. However, many of these drugs have been widely used for a long period of time, overused, or used inappropriately.
- Antibiotics are designed to kill specific bacteria. But over time bacteria learn to adapt to the medicine, making the drug less effective.
- Bacteria fights back against a drug in many ways:
- by producing enzymes that can inactivate the antibiotic
When To Use Home Treatment
Most mild to moderate respiratory syncytial virus infections in otherwise healthy people are like the common cold and can be treated at home. If your child is older than 12 months of age and is not at risk for complications from RSV infection, try home treatment. But RSV infections in people with an increased risk of complications need close monitoring.
People who have impaired immune systems need to see a doctor for cold symptoms because of the increased risk for complications. Also, babies and childrenand older adultswho have health problems and other risk factors should see a doctor at the first sign of RSV.
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How Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will take your or your childs medical history and ask about symptoms. The physical exam will include listening to your or your childs lungs and checking oxygen level in a simple finger monitoring test . They may order blood testing to check for signs of infection or take a nose swab to test for viruses.
If more severe illness is suspected, your healthcare provider will order imaging tests to check your or your childs lungs.
Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus Contagious
Respiratory syncytial virus is highly contagious. It spreads through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It also can live on surfaces and on hands and clothing. So people can get it if they touch something that’s contaminated.
RSV can spread quickly through schools and childcare centers. Babies often get it when older kids carry the virus home from school and pass it to them. Almost all kids have had RSV at least once by the time they’re 2 years old.
RSV infections often happen in epidemics that last from late fall through early spring. Respiratory illness caused by RSV such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia usually lasts about a week, but some cases may last several weeks.
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Preventing Dehydration In Babies With Rsv
Providing fluids, such as breast milk or formula, can be important to preventing dehydration in your baby. You can also ask your doctor if you should give your baby an electrolyte-replacing solution.
Keep your baby in an upright position, which makes it easier for them to breathe. You can keep your baby more upright in a stable and secure car seat or baby seat while they are awake at times during the day.
At night, you can raise your childs mattress by about 3 inches. You can place an object underneath your babys mattress to keep it higher up. Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
Limiting your babys exposure to cigarette smoke is also vital to keeping them healthy. Cigarette smoke can make your babys symptoms worse.
What Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus
Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus. It affects the lungs and its bronchioles . RSV is one of the most common causes of childhood illness, infecting most children by two years of age. RSV can also infect adults.
Most healthy children and older adults who get RSV will get a mild case with cold-like symptoms. Only self-care or comfort care is usually needed.
Severe infection with RSV can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis and may require hospital care. People at greatest risk of severe infection are the very young , those over the age of 65 and those of any age who have heart or lung conditions or a weakened immune system. RSV can also make existing heart and lung problems worse.
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How Common Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus
Most children get RSV before two years of age. Infection is easily spread in young children because of their close contact with other children who may be infected, through the sharing of their toys and constant touching of objects that may be contaminated with the virus. Some 57,000 children under age five require hospital care due to RSV each year in the U.S.
Among adults, about 177,000 older adults are hospitalized each year for RSV. Some 14,000 adults die due to this infection each year.
Rsv Can Cause More Serious Health Problems
RSV can also cause more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.
Healthy adults and infants infected with RSV do not usually need to be hospitalized. But some people with RSV infection, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months of age, may need to be hospitalized if they are having trouble breathing or are dehydrated. In the most severe cases, a person may require additional oxygen or intubation with mechanical ventilation . In most of these cases, hospitalization only lasts a few days.
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How To Help Your Child With Rsv Infection
- Watch for signs of dehydration. Make sure to replace fluids lost through rapid breathing, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. Encourage more frequent breast- or bottle-feeding. Avoid giving your baby sports drinks, soft drinks, undiluted fruit juice, or water. These beverages may contain too much sugar, contain too few calories, or lack the proper balance of essential minerals .
- Make your child more comfortable by helping relieve his or her symptoms. Sometimes a child may get some relief from medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or from being kept in an upright position, which makes breathing easier. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Never give aspirin to someone younger than 20 years, because it can cause Reye syndrome, a serious but rare problem. For more information, see Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.
- Antibiotics are not usually given for viral infections. But if your child develops complications of RSV, such as an ear infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Do not stop giving antibiotic medicine when your child starts to feel better. The entire prescription must be taken to completely kill the bacteria. If you do not give your child all the medicine, the bacterial infection may return.
- Take care of yourself. Caring for a sick child can be very tiring physically and emotionally. You can best help your child when you are rested and feeling well.
How Rsv Affects Your Body
RSV can affect any part of the respiratory tract:
- The breathing tubes, or bronchi
- The lung
The irritation can be intense.
RSV infection is most serious when it affects the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This condition is called acute bronchiolitis. RSV can also cause pneumonia, which is an infection in the rest of the lung. Because its often hard to tell the two illnesses RSV causes apart, health care providers often use the term lower respiratory tract infection. RSV is the most common cause of this condition in babies.
RSV bronchiolitis causes intense inflammation inside the bronchi and bronchioles. It irritates their inner lining and makes it swell. This destroys the cells that make it up, including those that clear mucus from the lungs. When mucus and destroyed cells clog the breathing tubes, patients cant breathe as easily. The clogs fill the air sacs at the ends of the breathing tubes . Alveoli move oxygen from the lungs into the blood. If they are blocked, less oxygen reaches the patients body.
The inflammation also causes the muscles around the breathing tubes to tighten . This closes the airways and makes breathing even harder. Because babies with RSV breathe much faster and much harder than usual, they lose a lot of fluid through the lungs and can easily become dehydrated.
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Can The Flu Vaccine Prevent Rsv
The flu and RSV are different viruses. The flu vaccine cannot prevent someone from getting sick with RSV.
There is no vaccine against RSV. However, some high-risk babies can be protected from RSV with a medication called palivizumab . This medication is given as a shot. It contains antibodies that lower the babys risk of severe disease if they catch RSV.
Palivizumab is expensive and it only works for a few weeks, so its just given to babies who are especially vulnerable. Babies might be eligible for palivizumab if they are:
Less than 7 months old and were born prematurely
Less than 25 months old and have bronchopulmonary dysplasia
Less than 25 months old and have a particular congenital heart condition
Babies who take palivizumab need to get it once a month during RSV season.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Causes Infection Of The Lungs And Breathing Passages
In adults and healthy children, it may only produce symptoms of a common cold, such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever, and a general feeling of being ill. But in premature babies and kids with diseases that affect the lungs, heart, or immune system, RSV infections can be much more serious.
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Your Ultimate Guide To The Most Common Kid Illnesseswhat Is Rsv
RSV is an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract. There are two different strains of the virus, and they can lead to different levels of severity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , almost all children catch the virus by the time theyre two, and an estimated 57,000 children under five are hospitalized each year in the United States for RSV. Much like cold and flu season, RSV season lasts from November through April. And the virus doesnt discriminate, affecting all age groups, from babies to the elderly.
Can Respiratory Syncytial Virus Be Prevented
Because RSV can spread easily by touching infected people or surfaces, washing hands well and often can help stop it. Wash your hands after being around someone who has cold symptoms. And school-age kids who have a cold should keep away from younger siblings especially babies until their symptoms end.
To prevent serious RSV-related respiratory disease, at-risk infants can get a monthly injection of a medicine with RSV antibodies during peak RSV season . The protection it gives doesn’t last long, though. So they’ll need injections each RSV season until they’re no longer at high risk for severe RSV infection. Ask the health care provider if your child is considered high-risk.
How Can I Prevent My Baby From Getting Rsv
As with colds, there isnt one magical thing you can do to prevent RSV, but you can take measures to minimize your risk.-Wash your hands: Since youre preparing your babys food and doing pretty much everything else for her, be sure to wash your hands. Wash them before you pick up your baby and whenever you handle anything thats going in her mouth.-Keep surfaces clean: Since RSV lives on surfaces, be sure to wipe down anything that your baby will come in contact with, including toys .-Keep your baby away from sick people: You wouldnt intentionally let your baby hang around with other babies or grown-ups who are sick, but once you know someone is ill, its time to go.
If your baby has picked up RSV before, she can still get it againeven during the same RSV seasonso be proactive about prevention.
Definition Of Community And Hospital Acquired Rsv Infection
Based on an incubation period of 27 days, all RSV infections were classified into:
Community acquired infection: child admitted with respiratory symptoms , or symptoms began less than 48 hours after admission and the child had not been in hospital within the preceding six days.
Possible hospital acquired infection: respiratory symptoms began either 26 days after admission or 26 days after discharge from hospital.
Definite hospital acquired infection: symptoms began after seven or more days in hospital, or within 48 hours of discharge.
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