by Georgia Picardal
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory infection that affects infants and young children. It is a highly contagious virus that can lead to severe respiratory illness and hospitalization, especially in premature babies, infants with underlying medical conditions, and those with a weakened immune system. You can check and watch theINFORMATIVE video that we've added at the end of this article to learn more about RSV for babies.
What Are RSV Symptoms : 15 Things to Look Out For
- Runny nose
- Breathing difficulties
- Shortness of breath:
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased activity level
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest retractions
- Bluish skin color
- Increased breathing rate:
How Do Babies Acquire RSV
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can affect people of all ages, but it is most severe in infants and young children. Babies can acquire RSV in various ways, and some of the common modes of transmission are:
- Droplets from an infected person: When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus can spread through the air in tiny droplets and enter a baby’s body through the nose or mouth.
- Direct contact: The virus can also spread from an infected person’s hands to a baby’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Shared objects: The virus can survive on objects such as toys, pacifiers, cutebaby clothes or other shared items and spread to the baby when they touch their mouth, nose, or eyes after touching these contaminated items.
- In-utero: In rare cases, an infected pregnant woman can pass the virus to her baby in the uterus, which can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, or other complications.
RSV Symptoms in Babies
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect infants and young children. It spreads easily through coughing, sneezing, and contact with contaminated surfaces. While RSV typically causes mild symptoms, it can lead to severe respiratory infections in some cases, especially in babies who have weakened immune systems. Understanding the symptoms of RSV in babies is crucial for parents and caregivers so that they can seek medical attention promptly if needed.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of RSV in babies:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose: Babies with RSV often experience nasal congestion or a runny nose. Their breathing may become labored, and they may have a congested or stuffy nose.
- Coughing: A persistent cough is another common symptom of RSV in babies. The cough may be dry or produce mucus, and it can become more severe at night or when the baby is lying down.
- Sneezing: Frequent sneezing can be a sign of RSV in babies. This may be accompanied by a runny nose.
- Fever: Fevers in babies is a common symptom of RSV infants. The fever may range from low-grade to high, and it can cause the baby to become restless and irritable.
- Wheezing or rapid breathing: In some cases, RSV can cause wheezing or rapid breathing in babies. This can be a sign of a more severe respiratory infection and should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.
- Decreased appetite or fatigue: Babies with RSV may experience a decreased appetite and fatigue, which can cause them to become lethargic and irritable.
It's important to note that not all babies with RSV will exhibit all of these symptoms. Some may only have a runny nose or cough, while others may experience a more severe form of the illness with multiple symptoms. Additionally, the severity of symptoms can vary greatly from one baby to the next.
It's also important to understand that these symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses, such as the common cold or flu. However, RSV can be more severe and persistent, and it's important to seek medical attention if you suspect your baby has contracted the virus.
In some cases, RSV can cause more severe respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which can lead to hospitalization. These infections can be particularly dangerous for premature infants or those with weakened immune systems.
In severe cases, RSV can cause breathing difficulties, including rapid breathing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. These symptoms can be life-threatening and should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.
It's also worth mentioning that some babies may have a mild form of RSV, with only a few symptoms that resolve quickly. In these cases, no medical attention may be necessary. However, it's important to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention if they worsen or persist.
Preventing RSV in Babies
Prevention is always better than cure, and this is especially true when it comes to RSV in babies. While there is no surefire way to prevent RSV, there are some steps that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands frequently: RSV spreads easily through contact with contaminated surfaces, so washing your hands frequently can help reduce the risk of infection. Make sure to wash your hands before and after caring for your baby, and encourage others to do the same.
- Avoid close contact with sick individuals: If someone in your home or your baby's caretaker is sick, it's best to avoid close contact to reduce the risk of infection. This can be challenging, especially for parents, but it's important to prioritize your baby's health.
- Keep your baby away from crowds: RSV is highly contagious, so it's best to keep your baby away from crowds, especially during cold and flu season. If you do need to take your baby to a crowded place, make sure to keep them as far away from sick individuals as possible and change yourinfant's clothes right away.
- Keep your home and surfaces clean: Make sure to clean your home frequently, especially surfaces that your baby touches frequently. This can help reduce the risk of infection.
- Get vaccinated: While there is no vaccine for RSV, getting vaccinated against other respiratory illnesses can help reduce the risk of infection.
It's worth noting that some babies are at higher risk of contracting RSV, including premature infants, those with weakened immune systems, and those with chronic lung or heart problems. If your baby falls into one of these categories, it's important to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of infection.
Treatment for RSV in Babies
Treatment for RSV in babies will depend on the severity of the illness. In many cases, the virus will run its course, and the baby will recover on their own. However, in some cases, medical treatment may be necessary. Here are some of the most common treatments for RSV in babies:
- Oxygen therapy: If your baby is struggling to breathe, they may need oxygen therapy. This can help them get enough oxygen to their lungs, which is crucial for their health.
- Bronchodilators: In some cases, bronchodilators may be prescribed to help relieve wheezing and other breathing difficulties associated with RSV.
- Steroids: Steroids may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation in the lungs, which can make breathing easier for your baby.
- Antibiotics: If your baby develops a secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics may be necessary to treat the infection.
- Intravenous fluids: In severe cases, intravenous fluids may be necessary to keep your baby hydrated and to prevent dehydration.
In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary for treatment, especially for premature infants or those with weakened immune systems. If your baby is hospitalized, they will receive close monitoring and treatment to ensure the best outcome.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention for RSV in Babies
When it comes to respiratory illnesses like RSV in babies, seeking medical attention is crucial. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the virus from worsening and reduce the risk of complications, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis. Here are some of the key reasons why seeking medical attention is so important for babies with RSV:
- Early detection and treatment: Early detection and treatment is crucial for preventing the virus from worsening and for ensuring that your baby has the best outcome. A healthcare professional will be able to assess the severity of your baby's illness and recommend the appropriate treatment, such as oxygen therapy, bronchodilators, steroids, or antibiotics.
- Relief of symptoms: Medical treatment can help relieve the symptoms associated with RSV, such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. This can make the illness easier for your baby to manage and can help prevent the virus from worsening.
- Close monitoring: Close monitoring is crucial for ensuring that the virus is not worsening and that your baby is receiving the right treatment to help them recover. A healthcare professional will be able to monitor your baby's condition closely and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
- Hospitalization: In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary for treatment, especially for premature infants or those with weakened immune systems. If your baby is hospitalized, they will receive close monitoring and treatment to ensure the best outcome.
- Preventing complications: Early treatment can help reduce the risk of complications, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which can be serious and life-threatening. Seeking medical attention early on can help ensure that your baby receives the appropriate treatment to prevent the virus from worsening and to reduce the risk of complications.
- Expert advice: A healthcare professional will be able to provide expert advice on how to manage your baby's illness and how to care for them at home. They can also answer any questions you may have and provide reassurance during a difficult time.
- Peace of mind: Finally, seeking medical attention can provide peace of mind for parents and caregivers. It can help ensure that your baby is receiving the best care possible and that their health is a top priority.
Seeking medical attention is crucial when it comes to RSV in babies. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the virus from worsening and reduce the risk of complications. A healthcare professional will be able to assess the severity of your baby's illness and recommend the appropriate treatment, as well as provide expert advice and peace of mind for parents and caregivers. If your baby is showing signs of illness, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Georgia Picardal, author
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What should I watch out with RSV? ›
- Rapid breathing.
- Belly breathing or using muscles in the ribs or neck to breathe.
- Flaring nostrils.
- Head bobbing with breathing.
- Rhythmic grunting while breathing.
Seek immediate medical attention if your child — or anyone at risk of severe RSV infection — has difficulty breathing, a high fever, or a blue color to the skin, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds.What happens when RSV gets worse? ›
Premature infants, babies younger than 6 months old, people above age 65 and people who have a compromised immune system, chronic lung disease or congenital heart condition can get a more severe case of RSV. A severe RSV infection can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which may require hospital care.Do you sleep a lot with RSV? ›
Children with bronchiolitis don't sleep well due to stuffy nose and cough causing frequent nighttime wake ups. Your child's snot can feel like a constant faucet. Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do as parents or doctors to make it better.What day is RSV worse? ›
RSV symptoms are typically at their worst on days 3 through 5 of illness. Fortunately, almost all children recover from an RSV infection on their own.When should I go to the ER for RSV? ›
Seek immediate medical attention or go to the nearest emergency department if you or anyone at risk of severe RSV infection has: Difficulty breathing. High fever. Bluish color to the skin, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds.What age is RSV serious? ›
Severe RSV Infection
One to two out of every 100 children younger than 6 months of age with RSV infection may need to be hospitalized. Those who are hospitalized may require oxygen, IV fluids (if they aren't eating and drinking), and/or mechanical ventilation (a machine to help with breathing).
Some may be sick for only a few days, others for one to two weeks. But we typically see cases of RSV get worse before they get better (just like the common cold). If a child is diagnosed on Day 2, mostly likely the virus will get worse before it gets better.Whats the longest RSV can last? ›
How long does RSV last? People with mild RSV may have symptoms for 3-8 days, but the virus can linger for several weeks. “A mild cough can linger for a long time, four to eight weeks at times, and can be normal,” Payden said.What does RSV cough sound like? ›
Children with RSV typically have two to four days of upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as fever and runny nose/congestion. These are then followed by lower respiratory tract symptoms, like increasing wheezing cough that sounds wet and forceful with increased work breathing.
How long is RSV positive for? ›
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days and may become contagious a day or two before they start showing signs of illness. However, some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks.What are the last stages of RSV? ›
What are possible complications of RSV in a child? In high-risk babies, RSV can lead to severe breathing illness and pneumonia. This may become life-threatening. RSV as a baby may be linked to asthma later in childhood.What is the fastest way to recover from RSV? ›
- Create moist air to breathe. Keep the room warm but not overheated. ...
- Drink fluids. Continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your infant as you would normally. ...
- Try saline nasal drops. ...
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers. ...
- Stay away from cigarette smoke.
In a small percentage of children who have wheezing with RSV, a breathing treatment with albuterol may help to provide short-term relief of symptoms (NOTE: albuterol does not affect the RSV virus that is causing the symptoms, only some of the symptoms caused by it).When should I go to the ER with RSV? ›
Seek immediate medical attention or go to the nearest emergency department if you or anyone at risk of severe RSV infection has: Difficulty breathing. High fever. Bluish color to the skin, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds.What should you not do with RSV? ›
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils, with others.
- Runny nose.
- Short periods without breathing (apnea)
- Trouble eating, drinking or swallowing.
- Flaring of the nostrils or straining of the chest or stomach while breathing.
- Breathing faster than normal, or trouble breathing.
- Dehydration (decrease in wet diapers)
- Difficult, labored, shallow or rapid breathing.
- High fever.
- Skin turning blue (especially lips and fingernails)
Other tips for relieving symptoms are:
- Create moist air to breathe. ...
- Drink fluids. ...
- Try saline nasal drops. ...
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers. ...
- Stay away from cigarette smoke.
Most people with RSV remain contagious for 3 to 8 days. Young infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for weeks. People can be contagious even if they don't have a fever or any other RSV symptoms. If you have RSV, stay home as much as possible until you're no longer contagious.
What do doctors prescribe for RSV? ›
Medications to treat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection include the antiviral drug ribavirin, which can be used in severe high-risk cases, and bronchodilators. The efficacy of bronchodilators or racemic epinephrine in treating RSV disease remains unproved.