Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a viral illness that causes trouble breathing. It is the most common factor leading to pneumonia in babies. RSV mostly occurs between November and April and is at its worst in January and February. Individuals who have contracted RSV usually feel their worst for four to five days but remain sick for a few weeks. Learning to recognize symptoms and implementing hygiene habits to limit the risk of contamination can make a significant difference during the holiday season as you gather with your loved ones.
RSV Symptoms and Risk Factors
RSV spreads easily through direct contact such as hugging or shaking hands, which is very common during the holidays as you visit family and friends. This can also happen when touching your face after being in contact with a contaminated surface, like if you are traveling via public transportation or your child attends daycare. Symptoms usually appear two to five days after exposure to the virus.
Common RSV symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Difficulty eating, drinking, or swallowing
- Labored breathing
Additional symptoms in infants are reduced appetite, decreased activity, and irritability. Babies younger than six months and elderly individuals are among those most at risk for severe illness when contracting RSV. Other factors that may increase your risk are asthma, congenital heart disease, and chronic lung disease.
If you suspect that your infant has contracted RSV, contact your pediatrician to get an accurate diagnosis and avoid severe complications.
How to Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe from RSV
If your baby was born prematurely, doctors recommend they get breastfed and avoid going to childcare during their first winter. Make sure that anyone coming into contact with your infant thoroughly washes their hands before touching them. Generally speaking, handwashing is your number one preventative measure against RSV.
You can also limit exposure to RSV with the following practices:
- Avoid contact with smoke
- Avoid contact with sick people
- Keep your infant away from crowds
- Disinfect surfaces regularly, including toys and changing tables
- Never share drinking glasses with others
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
Although there is no immunization for RSV, these hygiene habits can significantly reduce the risk of contamination, especially during the holiday season. Staying healthy helps everyone enjoy happy and relaxing festivities.
If you or your child are experiencing mild to moderate chest pains or labored breathing, call our experts at Advance ER today at (214) 494-8222 to schedule an appointment!