Nearly every child contracts respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at least once before age two. While RSV typically manifests as a common cold in most healthy children, some may experience severe illness.
If you're a parent of an infant or toddler, you might have inquiries regarding RSV and strategies to mitigate its occurrence. Continue reading to gain a better understanding.
RSV is among the numerous viruses responsible for causing respiratory illnesses, and it spreads similarly to the common cold virus, primarily through person-to-person transmission. It typically enters the body via the nose or eyes, often through contaminated saliva, mucus, or nasal secretions.
The prevalence of this virus typically peaks during the late fall to early spring months, although the timing can vary depending on the region.
In children under the age of 1 year, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalisation. Approximately two to three out of every 100 infants affected by RSV may require hospitalisation. These infants may require oxygen support for breathing or receive intravenous (IV) fluids if they face difficulties feeding or drinking. Fortunately, most of these children recover and can return home after a few days.
Nirsevimab, a treatment resembling immunisation, effectively prevents severe RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) illness. This injectable medication may be administered alongside your baby's routine vaccinations. Unlike vaccines, nirsevimab provides antibodies that begin safeguarding infants immediately and offer protection throughout a typical RSV season.
Another product, palivizumab, is given through monthly injections during the RSV season and has been utilised to prevent RSV-related diseases. It is intended for children under 24 months with specific conditions that place them at a high risk of severe RSV. Children who have received nirsevimab should not receive palivizumab. However, if your child didn't complete all palivizumab doses, they might be eligible for nirsevimab. Children who received palivizumab in their first season can receive nirsevimab in their second season if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Symptoms of RSV may encompass common cold signs and also involve:
Additionally, some children with RSV may have an elevated risk of developing a bacterial infection like an ear infection. In such cases, reach out to your doctor if your child experiences:
Paediatricians diagnose colds or bronchiolitis in children through symptom assessment and a physical examination. In some cases, they may conduct a nasal swab test to identify the presence of RSV or another virus. Additionally, they might consider a chest x-ray or oxygen saturation test to assess lung congestion. However, it's important to note that these tests are often unnecessary because most children tend to recover without complications, and there is no specific treatment for RSV.
There is no specific treatment for RSV, and medications like steroids and antibiotics are ineffective against it.
To provide comfort to your child during an RSV infection, you can take similar measures as you would for a severe cold:
It's worth noting that both children and adults can contract RSV multiple times, even during a single season. Often, subsequent infections tend to be less severe than the initial ones.
These proactive steps can significantly reduce the risk of RSV and other respiratory illnesses in your child and family.
If you need to consult a doctor online, Mobi Doctor is here to assist you. With convenient virtual healthcare services, you can receive medical advice and guidance from the comfort of your home. Your health and well-being are just a click away.