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Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the flu-like disease you've never heard of



If you get the classic signs of flu or cold [such as a runny nose, sore throat and fatigue]it's easy to assume that you have it. However, there is another virus that can cause these symptoms: it is called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and even if you have never heard of it, there is a very good chance that you actually had it in the past [19659002] The virus is a common cause of illness in children – in fact, most children have an RSV infection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until their second birthday – but it can affect people of all ages. And it is possible that you have it without realizing it.

As with a mild cold or flu, the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus usually include runny nose, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing, says the CDC. Therefore, it may be difficult to distinguish RSV at first sight from other upper respiratory tract infections. And like other diseases, RSV can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also get it when you kiss the face of a RSV child.

Due to the overlap with the flu in terms of symptoms and timing, your doctor (or your child's) should be careful at diagnosis.

RSV cases tend to peak at certain times of the year, depending on where you live. The RSV season usually overlaps with the flu season . For example, the 2016 RSV season began in several parts of the country between mid-September and mid-November, peaking between the end of December and mid-February 2017. According to CDC data.

If your doctor suspects that you have RSV, he's likely to conduct an investigation to check for wheezing or other signs of pulmonary irritation, the Mayo Clinic says. Usually this is not enough to make a correct diagnosis. "When you look at a patient, you can not tell if he has flu or RSV," says William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and a professor at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine, to SELF. Therefore, your doctor will probably swab look for the inside of your mouth or nose for signs of the virus (and exclude anything else, such as the flu), infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, senior.

Scholarship from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says SELF. In some cases, a blood test may be required to rule out other illnesses, or a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia, says the Mayo Clinic.

Most people can recover from RSV infection in one to two weeks. Although some people may experience more severe symptoms.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with RSV, but otherwise you seem to be okay, your doctor will probably recommend a supportive treatment such as over-the-counter pain and fever reduction to drink a stuffy nose and lots of fluids, says the Mayo Clinic.

But RSV can also cause more severe infections, such as bronchiolitis (an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (19459028). an infection of the lung). And infants, premature babies, the elderly those with weakened immune systems and those with other underlying health conditions are at greater risk for these types of complications.

The association between RSV and bronchiolitis is particularly strong, Daniel Ganjian MD, a pediatrician at the Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. "Every child I see with bronchiolitis, I automatically test for RSV," he says.

In more severe cases, a patient may be admitted to hospital for a few days if he has respiratory problems or is dehydrated. You may need extra oxygen or even a breathing tube and mechanical ventilation to facilitate breathing.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect against RSV, says Adalja. And like the cold, you can only do so much against it.

The virus can survive for hours on hard surfaces such as tables, door knobs, and cribs, says the CDC. So you want to do your best to keep these areas clean, especially if someone in your house has been sneezing or coughing lately.

If you have a young child, a premature baby, or a child with a compromised immune system at home, ask people to stay away from cold or flu-like symptoms, according to the CDC. Otherwise, you only want to do your best to avoid contact with the sick, often wash your hands with soap and water and do not touch your face with unwashed hands.

There is a drug called palivizumab a type of antibody that can prevent serious RSV disease in babies and children at high risk, such as premature babies, congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease, Dr. Adalia. However, it can not completely prevent RSV or cure or treat children who already have it.

If your child has a cough, but otherwise seems to be fine and is not at high risk for RSV complications, this is probably OK. Ganjian. However, if you do not eat and drink normally, your nostrils flare while you breathe, or breathe faster than usual, it is a good idea to have a doctor check you as soon as possible. And if you have breathing problems and it does not get any better, you should call your doctor. Conductor.

Although RSV is not well known to most people right now, this should change in the future. "Businesses are working on better diagnoses of RSV, as well as better therapies and a RSV vaccine," Dr. Conductor. "This will be an important topic in the future."

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