Could it be RSV? | Samaritan Health Services

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During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the usual winter colds and flus all but disappeared as people masked up and kept their distance. Now that kids are back in school, most pandemic restrictions have been lifted, and in-person gatherings are once again the norm, respiratory ailments are starting to make a comeback.

Among the germs that make the seasonal rounds is respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV. RSV cases are increasing nationally and increasing in Oregon.

Although the virus receives a lot of media attention, RSV is common and mild for most children and adults. The symptoms of RSV are the same as those of the common cold: runny nose, cough, sneezing, fever and loss of appetite.

“By their second birthday, most children have had RSV,” the pediatrician said. Caitlyn Anglin, DO, from Samaritan Lincoln City Medical Center. “If you have a sick child at home, it is good to monitor their symptoms because sometimes RSV can cause serious illness in children under 2 years old, especially infants under 6 months old. It can also cause serious illnesses in the elderly.

The same precautionary measures we took for COVID-19 are also effective in preventing other respiratory illnesses like RSV and influenza. There is no vaccine for RSV, but there are proven ways to reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep your hands away from your face or your child’s face.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs and electronics.
  • Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor environments, especially if you or someone in your home is at high risk for serious illness.

People at high risk include:

  • Young children, especially children under 2 years old.
  • Children with underlying medical conditions.
  • People of all ages with weakened immune systems.
  • Adults 65 and older, especially those with chronic heart or lung disease.

“I recommend getting all eligible family members vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19,” Dr. Anglin said. “That way you’re more likely to start from a healthier place if you encounter RSV.”

If your child has symptoms of a respiratory illness – cold, flu, COVID-19 or RSV – remember the following guidelines:

  • If symptoms are mild, keep your child home.
  • Help manage symptoms with proper nutrition, hydration, and rest.
  • Use over-the-counter medications to manage fever and pain, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if needed. Never give aspirin to children.

“RSV patients generally feel better within a week or two,” Dr. Anglin said. “A residual cough and nasal drainage can last for a few weeks after the first symptoms start. It is usually not necessary to be tested for RSV. If symptoms are severe or worsen rapidly, contact your health care provider. Warning signs that require immediate attention include difficulty breathing, very rapid breathing, and dehydration.

For more information, see these RSV resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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