Respiratory syncytial virus infection

What is respiratory syncytial virus infection?

Respiratory syncytial virus infection – for short it is called RSVI, is a condition very similar to a cold, but with much more pronounced symptoms symptoms. And like the common cold, this viral infection is highly contagious and very widespread. Most children under the age of 2 are affected by the infection at least once.

Respiratory syncytial virus infection is not a cause for concern. But it can lead to pneumonia or other problems in some people, especially children. Therefore, it is important to observe the symptoms and consult your GP if you notice their worsening.

What are the symptoms?

In an infection with the RSV virus, the symptoms are the same as in a severe cold, for example:

  • Cough;
  • Congested or runny nose;
  • Slightly red throat;
  • Earaches;
  • Slight fever;

Babies with such a viral infection may also be:

  • very low energy – hardly moving;
  • moody and irritable;
  • eating much less than usual;

Some children have more severe symptoms such as wheezing. Be sure to contact your doctor if your child has breathing problems or wheezing.

What causes it?

Respiratory syncytial virus /RSV/ causes the infection. Like a cold virus, RSV attacks the nose, eyes, throat and lungs. It is spread in cold weather by airborne droplets through saliva and secretions released by infected people when they cough or sneeze. It is also possible to be exposed to the virus by sharing food or drink that is contaminated with the virus. There are many strains of the RSV virus, so your body can never develop immunity to all of them. You can get infected repeatedly throughout your life, even if you get several infections with the virus in one season.

Treatment of respiratory syncytial virus infection

The viral infection usually goes away on its own. For most people, home treatment is all that is needed. If your child is infected with the virus and has developed symptoms:

  • Elevate the child’s head higher than the body, prop him up on a higher pillow so he can breathe easier and sleep.
  • Cut the baby’s nose if he cannot breathe well enough to eat or sleep;
  • You can bring down the temperature with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to a person under 20 years of age, as this can lead to Reye’s Syndrome.
  • When the person infected with the virus is in generally good health, their symptoms usually subside in about 1-2 weeks.
  • Viral infection can become a cause for concern when symptoms worsen over time or if they lead to pneumonia. Certain groups of people are at risk of developing complications:

– Babies under 6 months of age, especially those born earlier /premature/;

– People with a weak or weakened immune system;

– People with heart or lung diseases;

– Adults over the age of 65;

Hospitalization is sometimes required in these cases. Therefore, it is very important to observe the symptoms and if there are signs that they are getting worse, seek medical help immediately.

How to protect yourself?

It is very difficult to protect yourself from exposure to the virus. But you can greatly reduce the likelihood of infection by maintaining excellent personal hygiene. Wash your hands often and teach your child to do the same. Medicines to prevent infection with the RSV virus can be prescribed to children and babies, due to the danger of developing severe complications. In most cases, these drugs do not stop the infection, but only prevent the symptoms from worsening.

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