The ABCs of RSV

RSV: one of the most common but unsung viruses. Despite hospitalizing 58,000-80,0000 young children and 60,000-160,000 seniors each year, it’s not a household name like the Flu or COVID-19. Perhaps this is partly because of its tong-twisting name, respiratory syncytial virus. Let’s get to know the ABCs of RSV!

RSV in Children:

Respiratory Syncytial Virus is among the most prevalent infections in children. In fact most people will get a RSV infection by the time they’re two years old. But common doesn’t mean harmless. RSV is the number one cause of infant hospitalization in the US. Typical signs of RSV infection include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Low appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

These symptoms will usually appear in phases. Particularly young babies with RSV may show limited signs of infection; The only indications of illness may be decreased activity, irritability, and breathing problems.

Prevention and Treatment

The best cure is prevention. Multiple preventive medications and vaccines are available to reduce risk of infection and protect against the severe health consequences if an infection does occur.

With proper rest, hydration, and nutrition, most kids will recover in less than two weeks. Speak with your physician before giving a child over-the-counter cold medicines. Some of these medications include ingredients that are harmful to kids. You should never give your child (or teenager) aspirin without consulting a healthcare provider because it has been linked a life-threatening condition called Reye Syndrome.

RSV in Adults

Younger and middle-aged adults generally recover from RSV on their own. Healthy adults of these ages tend to experience “cold-like” symptoms. In more severe cases, individuals can experience a lung infection or pneumonia. As a group, people age 60 and up are especially vulnerable to RSV. The virus hospitalizes 60,000-160,000 older adults and 6,000-10,000 die as a result. People with weakened immune systems or conditions such as asthma, COPD, and congestive heart failure, are at a higher risk of dangerous complications from RSV.

Prevention and Treatment

Frequent hand-washing and cleaning of surfaces can help prevent the spread of RSV. Try your best to not touch your face without first washing your hands. Touching your face can allow the virus to enter around the mouth, eyes and nose.

Two vaccines are approved for adults age 60 and older. Arexvy: Clinical trials showed Arexvy to be 83% effective in preventing lung infections, such as pneumonia, from RSV. Abrysvo was 89% effective at preventing lung infections from the virus.

Drinking plenty of water, getting high quality sleep, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are some of the best ways to get well and stay well.