Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. RSV season is in fully swing, which lasts from August through March. Young children and older adults, especially those with certain underlying health conditions, are at higher risk for severe illness from RSV. It's important to know the symptoms.
Symptoms of RSV include:
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.
Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two. You can manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It's important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
Parents of children at high risk for developing severe RSV disease should help their child, when possible, do the following:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Wash their hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching their face with unwashed hands
Limit the time they spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings, especially during fall, winter, and spring. This may help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.