There are many symptoms of RSV infection that are similar to those of common cold. RSV mainly causes respiratory tract infections, and should be identified and treated in time to prevent further complications.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects the respiratory tract in humans. The virus causes several respiratory tract infections, particularly lower respiratory infection. It usually infects the lungs and the breathing passage. The RSV infection in children can lead to complications like pneumonia and bronchitis, which is the inflammation of the airways of the lungs.
These infections may last for about a week, but in case of severe infection, the child may have to be hospitalized for further treatment. When the virus enters a person through external factors like air and physical contact with infected people, it starts multiplying within the body. The incubation period is four to six days, and the first symptoms can be observed after a week of the viral infestation.
As mentioned earlier, the main cause of these symptoms is the presence of RSV in the body. This disease is highly contagious, and can spread if a healthy person comes in contact with an infected individual. The virus can spread through droplets, which are released when a person coughs or sneezes. It can survive on any surface like doorknobs, clothing, and hands; or in the environment for about five hours.
The infection spreads faster in the fall and winter season, as these seasons are favorable for the growth of the virus. It can affect people from all age groups. Infants, particularly till the age of two, suffer from one or more signs of RSV infection. If the child is affected, he must be given prompt treatment to avoid the onset of complications such as ear infections, nasal passage, airway inflammation, and lung diseases, which may eventually lead to lung failure.
RSV can cause chronic lung infection in young babies. The other symptoms observed in adults are similar to those of common cold. The symptoms can vary according to the age of the individual. In infants and young children, the signs of this may be severe, but older children and adults experience symptoms that are much more severe in intensity as compared to the ones observed in babies and young children.
- Breathing problems
- Tachypnea or rapid breathing
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Cyanosis or bluish discoloration of the skin due to lack of oxygen
- High-grade fever
- Sore or dry throat
- Body ache
- Mild to severe headache
Treating RSV Infection
Before administering treatment, the doctor may ask the infected person to undergo certain tests. Fluid samples from the nose and throat are taken and checked for the presence of RSV. Mild symptoms do not require any treatment, and will go down after a short period of time. If in case they are severe, the patient may require hospitalization. An antiviral medication called Ribavirin may be administered. If children are affected, they may be given intravenous (IV) fluids, oxygen, and humidified air. Sometimes, in severe cases, they may also be needed to be put on the ventilator.
In order to prevent the infection, practice healthy habits like frequently washing hands with disinfectants, eating a healthy diet, and keeping the body well hydrated. Though, currently, there are no vaccines available to curb this viral infection, the best way to ward off the complications is to prevent the growth and multiplication of the virus by practicing proper hygiene.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.