Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes infections of the lungs and tract . It's so common that the majority children are infected with the virus by age 2. Respiratory syncytial virus can also infect adults.
In adults and older, healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and typically mimic the cold . Self-care measures are usually all that's needed to relieve any discomfort.
RSV can cause severe infection in some people, especially premature babies, older adults, infants and adults with heart and lung disease, or anyone with a very weak immune system (immunocompromised).
Signs and symptoms of respiratory syncytial viral infection most ordinarily appear about four to 6 days after exposure to the virus. In adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs and symptoms. These include:
Ø Congested or runny nose
Ø Dry cough
Ø Low-grade fever
Ø Sore throat
Ø Mild headache
Respiratory syncytial virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It spreads easily through the air on infected respiratory droplets. You or your child can become infected if someone with RSV coughs or sneezes near you. The virus also passes to others through direct contact, like shaking hands.
The virus can live for hours on hard objects like countertops, crib rails and toys. Touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching a contaminated object and you're likely to select up the virus.
An infected person is most contagious within the first few days after infection. However, the virus may still spread for up to a couple of weeks.
By age 2, most youngsters will are infected with respiratory syncytial virus. Children who attend child care centers or who have siblings who attend school are at a better risk of exposure. RSV season — when outbreaks tend to occur — is that the fall to the top of spring.
People at increased risk of severe or sometimes life-threatening RSV infections include:
Ø Premature infants
Ø Young children who have congenital heart or lung disease
Ø Children with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or transplantation
Ø Infants in crowded child care settings
Ø Older adults
Ø Adults with asthma, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Ø People with immunodeficiency, including those with certain transplanted organs, leukemia or HIV/AIDS
Complications of respiratory syncytial virus include:
Ø Hospitalization. A severe RSV infection may require a hospital stay in order that doctors can monitor and treat breathing problems and provides intravenous (IV) fluids.
Ø Pneumonia. RSV is the most common cause of inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or the lungs' airways (bronchiolitis) in infants. These complications can occur when the virus spreads to the lower tract . Lung inflammation are often quite serious in infants, young children, immunocompromised individuals, or people with chronic heart or lung disease.
Ø Middle ear infection. If germs enter the space behind the eardrum, you can get a middle ear infection (otitis media). This happens most frequently in infants and young children.
Ø Asthma. There could also be a link between severe respiratory syncytial virus in children and therefore the chance of developing asthma later in life.
Ø Repeated infections. Once you've had RSV, it's normal for the infection to return back. It's even possible for it to happen during the same RSV season. However, symptoms usually aren't as severe — typically it's within the sort of a standard cold. But they will be serious in older adults or people with chronic heart or lung disease.
No vaccine exists for respiratory syncytial virus. But common-sense precautions can help prevent the spread of this infection:
Ø Wash your hands frequently. Teach your children the importance of hand-washing.
Ø Avoid exposure. Limit your infant's contact with people that have fevers or colds. This is especially important if your baby is premature and during any baby's first two months of life.
Ø Keep things clean. Make sure kitchen and bathroom countertops are clean. Discard used tissues right away.
Ø Don't share drinking glasses with others. Use your own glass or disposable cups once you or somebody else is sick. Label each person's cup.
Ø Don't smoke. Infants who are exposed to tobacco smoke have a better risk of getting RSV and potentially more-severe symptoms. If you are doing smoke, never do so inside the house or car.
Ø Wash toys regularly. Do this especially when your child or a playmate is sick.
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