Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (or “RSV”) is a respiratory virus that often causes mild symptoms that are similar to the common cold or flu. Like cold and flu, people who contract RSV usually recover in 7-14 days. Serious cases can develop, though, and these cases are more common in infants and older adults with RSV being the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children (less than 1 year of age). The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory in June 2021 noting an increase in positive RSV cases in major parts of the US, including Texas, so education about this virus is important and relevant.
RSV (Causes, Symptoms & Patient Care)
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the virus enters the body of another person through the eyes, nose, or mouth. RSV also spreads through direct contact (like shaking hands) and can survive on countertops, doorknobs, crib rails, and toys for hours after an initial exposure. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is contagious for 3 to 8 days after initial infection although it can remain communicable for as long as 4 weeks – particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of RSV usually present themselves 4 to 6 days after exposure and are similar to a mild cold and cough:
- Congested or runny nose
- Dry cough
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
In severe cases (especially in infants and older adults), symptoms can be much more serious and include:
- High Fever
- Severe cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual fatigue (lethargy)
People with the highest risk of developing a severe case of RSV are:
- Infants born premature
- Young children with weak immune systems caused by a medical condition or a specific medical treatment(s)
- Young children with congenital lung or heart disease
- Adults with immune systems that are weak and compromised
- Adults with heart or lung disease
Tips on Preventing RSV
Here are a few preventive steps you can take to protect yourself (or your family) from contracting this respiratory illness:
- Wash Hands Frequently
- Avoid Exposure – Use a mask to cover your nose and mouth when in public.
- Don’t Smoke – Smoking is a major cause of many respiratory disorders so eliminating (or severely reducing) smoking habits is recommended – especially around the presence of children.
- Regularly Clean Common Areas – This becomes extremely important when someone in the household has contracted RSV or has been directly exposed.
RSV and COVID-19
RSV and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses that share common symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. One major difference between the symptoms of RSV and COVID-19 is a respiratory syncytial infection does not result in the loss of taste or smell which is a common symptom of the COVID-19 virus. Patients who have (or had) RSV are also more prone to contracting the coronavirus as the virus lowers immunity to other bacteria or viral infections. The only way to truly diagnose a virus is through diagnostic testing which is offered at all Integra Urgent Care clinics. Learn more about our diagnostic testing offerings at https://integrauc.com/services/diagnostic-care/
When to See a Doctor for RSV?
If you or your child is experiencing any of the following severe symptoms of RSV, it is recommended to seek immediate medical care:
- Rapid Breathing or Difficulty Breathing
- Symptoms are getting worse
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent coughing
Integra Urgent Care is open 7 days a week and offers Telemedicine when requested. If you or a family member is not feeling well, don’t hesitate. Call your nearest Integra Urgent Care clinic to set up an appointment today. Learn more at https://integrauc.com/
Diagnosis & Treatment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
The diagnosis of RSV by a healthcare provider usually involves the following steps:
- Examining Medical Records
- Conducting a Physical Evaluation
- Diagnostic Testing
Since RSV is a virus, there is no specific cure. There are, however, treatments available to address the symptoms that RSV produces, which include:
- OTC Medications – Over-the-counter drugs (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) can reduce fever and pain, although aspirin should not be given to children.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids – It’s necessary to keep the body hydrated to minimize headaches and reduce symptoms.
- Clear Congestion – For infants, this can include suctioning mucus from the nose to help clear congestion. For adults, this includes OTC medication to break up mucus and frequent clearing of the sinuses to keep an infection from developing.
Complications & Risk Factors Associated with RSV
For severe cases of RSV (especially in infants and older adults), complications can include:
- Pneumonia: The RSV virus can spread to the lower respiratory tract, leading to serious illnesses such as pneumonia (or bronchiolitis).
- Middle Ear Infection
- Croup: The inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords in young children, leading to breathing problems and a barking cough.
Integra Urgent Care
If you’ve been exposed or experiencing symptoms of RSV, Integra Urgent Care is here to help.
We are a leading urgent care provider in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX operating clinics in Las Colinas, Grand Prairie, and Weatherford. Our team of friendly, qualified healthcare professionals have the experience and diagnostic tools to provide a correct diagnosis and a customized treatment plan for our patients suffering from a variety of respiratory illnesses, including RSV. We offer state-of-the-art clinics and extensive diagnostic testing options.
Integra Urgent Care is available to treat you or your child 7 days a week with extended hours on weekdays. We offer online check-in and telemedicine options to make your appointments as convenient as possible. To schedule an appointment, visit us at https://integrauc.com/ or call the nearest Integra Urgent Care walk-in medical center: