Doctor's Notes on Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause different illnesses, the most common of which is a common cold. In babies and toddlers, it can cause more severe illnesses including pneumonia and bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways). RSV is a highly contagious infection that most often occurs in the winter months.
Swelling around the vocal cords can cause a bark-like cough. Symptoms associated with more severe infection may include:
- significant fever,
- wheezing, and
- bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis) around the mouth and fingernails.
Young infants may experience difficulty feeding and episodes of apnea (stopped breathing).
What Is the Treatment for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection?
There is no specific treatment for RSV infection, and most infections go away on their own. Treatment can be used to manage symptoms, such as medications to control fever and pain (ibuprofen or acetaminophen). It is also important for the affected person to consume enough fluids.
Aspirin should never be given to children, and over-the-counter cold medications should also not be used without the advice of a doctor.
Must Read Articles:
Chronic and Acute CoughsA cough is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. A chronic or persistent cough may signal certain lung conditions that should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Common causes of coughs include infection, allergies, lung disease, medications, and GERD (reflux). Acute coughs are categorized as infectious or non-infectious. Chronic cough (persistent cough) have a variety of causes and should be evaluated by physician. Treatment of cough, acute cough, chronic or persistent cough depends on the cause of the cough.
Common ColdThe cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world, with more than 1 billion colds per year reported in the United States alone. Symptoms and signs include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, sneezing, and runny nose. Treatment involves drinking plenty of fluids and taking cough, fever, and pain medications.
Earache (Ear Pain)Earache is pain in the ear. An earache can be caused by infections or fungus. There are types of ear infections to include otitis externa, otitis externa (swimmer's ear), otitis media, and myringitis. Symptoms of an earache include pain in the ear, fever, fluid seeping from the ear, and headache. Treatment of earache depends on the cause.
Fever in ChildrenWhat are causes, symptoms, and treatment (acetaminophen) of fever in children? Learn when to worry, when a high fever is an emergency, and how to take a rectal temperature.
Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Contagious?Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of respiratory tract infections, particularly in infants and young children. Most children will have an RSV infection by their 2nd birthday because it's so common and contagious. In healthy children, the virus usually causes just a mild cold.
PneumoniaPneumonia is inflammation of one or both lungs with consolidation. Pneumonia is frequently but not always caused by infection. The infection may be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough with sputum production, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus causes viral pneumonia in a percentage of people who contract the virus.
Sore ThroatSore throats are generally named for the anatomical site affected, such as: the pharynx, tonsils, adenoids, larynx, and epiglottis. Sore throat treatment depends on the cause, infection, viral, or fungal.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)An upper respiratory tract infection is generally caused by a virus and treatment is directed at managing the symptoms of the infection. Viral infections are not responsive to antibiotics. The most common upper respiratory tract infection is the common cold. Upper respiratory infections are contagious thus prevention measures such as frequent hand washing and avoiding other that are ill are the most effective.
Viral PneumoniaPneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can be in just one part of the lungs, or it can involve many parts. Symptoms of viral pneumonia include low-grade fever, coughing up mucus, tiredness, and muscle aches. A percentage of people who contract the deadly COVID-19 develop severe lung symptoms that may include viral pneumonia. The best treatment for viral pneumonia of any cause is to rest and keep the patient hydrated.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.