Medical City Healthcare - October 03, 2017

In the U.S., RSV is most common in fall, winter and early spring. RSV is a common virus that causes respiratory tract infections, including the common cold. Infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are typically at higher risk.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that in one year, RSV was responsible for the following in children under 5 years of age:

  • 7 million doctor visits
  • 638,000 ER and hospital outpatient visits
  • 86,000 hospitalizations

RSV — really spreadable virus.

RSV is highly contagious. In addition to colds, RSV also causes bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, middle ear infections and asthma.

Children under 12 months old are very susceptible to complications from RSV, including pneumonia and bronchiolitis, the most common cause of hospitalization in infants.

The reason that RSV can be so dangerous for infants and older adults is because it affects the ability to breathe. Symptoms of bronchiolitis and pneumonia include inflamed, congested airways filled with mucus, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

At the highest risk of getting a severe RSV infection are babies born prematurely and those with lung, heart or other chronic illnesses, according to information released by the March of Dimes during RSV Awareness Month.

How to prevent RSV.

RSV is spread through droplet transmission. It's passed from person to person through coughs and sneezes or from contact with surfaces containing the virus, such as hands, clothing, toys, food and more. There is currently no vaccine to prevent RSV.

The best defense against RSV and its complications is to:

  • Wash your hands often and teach children to do the same
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay away from sick people and keep them away from infants
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and items to remove germs
  • Stay home when you're sick and keep kids home from school and day care when they have a bug

How to treat RSV and what the color of your mucus means.

Matt Bush, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children's Hospital, says that about 95% of upper respiratory conditions start off as viral infections, which aren't treatable with antibiotics.

Treat the symptoms of a viral respiratory infection with:

  • Plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and thin mucus
  • A cool-mist humidifier to help clear stuffy noses and reduce coughing
  • Saline nose drops (try a bulb syringe to clear your baby's nose)
  • Non-aspirin pain and fever medications as needed

At Medical City Healthcare, we're dedicated to the care and improvement of human life. So, we hope you'll Take Care!

For more information, call our Ask a Nurse hotline 24/7 or use Find a Doctor online.

Medical City Healthcare provides comprehensive emergency services across North Texas.

You can also get care for minor injuries or illness at one of the many DFW CareNow® Urgent Care locations, with convenient Web Check-In® so you can wait in the comfort of your home.

Revised 11/11/2019

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