At some point, you or your child likely had Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and may not have realized it. Mild cases of RSV can easily be mistaken for other common viruses. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, fever, headaches, and a runny nose.
However, at-risk populations — pregnant women, babies, and older adults, especially those with certain underlying conditions — can experience complications. When RSV infiltrates the lungs, it can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, and exacerbation of pre-existing conditions like asthma or COPD.
Every year, RSV causes 60,000-160,000 adults over 65 and 58,000-80,000 children under five to be hospitalized. In the United States, RSV is the top cause of hospitalization for babies less than a year old. Furthermore, it’s responsible for 100-300 deaths annually among children under 5.
With the approaching RSV season, along with cold, flu, and COVID season, Ruchir Thakker, DO, and his team at NewMed Immediate Care in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, have pulled together essential information to ensure you are well-informed.
This respiratory illness shares several symptoms with other diseases but also has some distinct characteristics:
- Rapid spread: RSV can quickly circulate through households and communities, emphasizing the need for early precautions
- Persistent dry cough: A hallmark symptom of RSV is a dry, persistent cough
- Prolonged symptoms: RSV often lingers longer than a typical cold
- Transmissible nature: Even individuals with mild RSV symptoms can transmit the virus to others, necessitating confirmation through laboratory testing
This virus typically spreads through respiratory droplets, primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be transmitted through contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus, followed by touching your face.
No specific treatment or medication has been developed for RSV. For mild symptoms, the best approach is to stay well-hydrated and get plenty of rest.
Individuals with conditions like COPD or asthma should adhere to their prescribed medications to alleviate breathing difficulties and consult our medical team for potential adjustments to their treatment.
The RSV vaccine and other preventive measures
The RSV vaccine enhances your immune response against RSV and can reduce the severity of symptoms and complications.
At NewMed Immediate Care, we agree with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for the vaccine and advise the following groups to get inoculated.
Adults aged 60 and over
Older adults, especially those with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues like chronic lung or heart disease, should be vaccinated. Healthy individuals within this age group should consult us regarding the vaccine.
Anyone between 32-36 weeks of pregnancy should be vaccinated. It is crucial to safeguarding newborns at birth.
Babies and toddlers
Babies, particularly those who were born prematurely or have specific immunocompromising conditions, such as lung disease, should get vaccinated.
Other precautions include:
- Wearing masks
- Practicing social distancing in crowded indoor settings
- Maintaining proper hand-washing hygiene
- Avoiding close contact with symptomatic individuals\
Schedule an appointment with us for additional information about RSV, an evaluation of your risk factors, or a consultation regarding the new vaccines. You can give us a call or use our online booking tool today.