Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a contagious viral respiratory infection which you can contract through your eyes, nose or mouth. It affects children and adults. However, infants under two with other health problems can experience more severe symptoms. While it is not life threatening, it can lead to additional problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Symptoms are similar to the common cold, including cough, congested/runny nose, sore throat, ear pain, headache and fever. Infants with RSV eat and sleep less, are irritable and can experience apnea, especially if they were born prematurely. Most people get RSV at least once by the time they are two years old.
If your child comes down with RSV symptoms, call their physician. They may want to check pulse oximetry (oxygenation), run blood tests and order a chest x-ray. If symptoms worsen, such as wheezing, fast breathing, trouble breathing, a continuous cough, or blue tinted skin and/or nails, take them to the Emergency room. Some children require hospitalization for oxygen, fluids and intravenous steroids.
A few home remedies can help, including pain relievers/fever reducers, humidifiers or vaporizers, drinking lots of fluids and using saline nasal sprays. To help your child breathe easier, keep their head elevated while awake and asleep.
RSV is easily transferred through saliva and direct contact, and you can remain contagious for up to eight days. Keep yourself and your family healthy by thoroughly washing hands, continuing daily nasal washes, and bleach/wash toys, counter tops and door handles/faucet handles. RSV spreads quickly through daycares, schools and other facilities with large groups of people. If your child is feeling ill, keep them home until they are better.