Respiratory syncytial virus: Symptoms, treatment and prevention

Also known as RSV, respiratory syncytial virus is a lung and respiratory tract infection-causing virus....

Also known as RSV, respiratory syncytial virus is a lung and respiratory tract infection-causing virus. The majority of children, according to the Mayo Clinic, have already been infected by the time they are 2 years old. While the virus can be severe, it is usually mild and can be treated with self-care.


Symptoms of RSV include cold-like signs such as headache, runny nose, congestion, fever, cough and sore throat. They begin four to six days after being exposed to the virus. A progression with more complications will have signs like a worsening cough, high fever, bluish skin color, rapid breathing, wheezing or difficulty breathing.


Treatment for the RSV symptoms and infection include over-the-counter medication for the fever. There may be antibiotics given. Many times, however, just simple bed rest is all that is needed for the virus to work its course. For severe infections, hospitalization may be needed for fluids. Some smaller children or those with weak immune systems may need a breathing machine.


There is no vaccine for this particular virus. Prevention can be as simple as avoiding exposure to those with the virus, hand washing, not sharing drink glasses or other items, wiping down items with disinfectant, washing toys, and not smoking or not having people smoke around the child.

If you believe that your child may have respiratory syncytial virus and would like to get him or her checked out by an Atlanta-area doctor, give one a call. The doctor can answer your questions, get you better informed or provide you with medical treatment.

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