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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. For many, RSV is recoverable within a week, but RSV can be serious for some. Infants and older adults are at the highest risk for RSV complications.
Currently, RSV is on the rise and spreading at higher levels in the 2022 fall and winter seasons. The following CDC information can help you learn how RSV spreads, how to prevent the virus and when to seek care.
What Are the Symptoms of RSV?
Those infected with RSV typically show symptoms within four to six days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms can include:
- Runny nose
- Decreased appetite
Symptoms vary depending on the stage of RSV, meaning that symptoms don’t typically appear all at once. The only symptoms that may be displayed in young infants are irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties. Most children will experience an RSV infection by the time they are 2 years old.
While most symptoms are mild, some can be serious and lead to major health complications. RSV infections can cause bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than age 1. Older adults—especially those age 65 and older or with weakened immune systems—and infants younger than 6 months may need to be hospitalized if they are having trouble breathing or experiencing dehydration.
How Does RSV Spread?
RSV spreads quickly and is highly contagious. It can spread through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. Additionally, RSV can live on surfaces such as counters, door knobs, hands and clothing.
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days and may become contagious a day or two before they show signs of illness. As such, the virus can spread quickly through schools and daycare centers.
How Do I Prevent RSV?
To best prevent the spread of RSV, especially if cold-like symptoms are present, follow these CDC guidelines:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve—not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils with others.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.
If you have an infant, ask their pediatrician if they could be considered high-risk. If you have high-risk children, abide by the following CDC guidelines:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash the child’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching the child’s face with unwashed hands.
- Try to limit the time the child spends in childcare centers or other contagious settings during periods of high RSV activity. This may help prevent infection and the spread of the virus during the RSV season.
How Do I Care for RSV at Home?
Mild cases of RSV can be cared for at home with the following strategies:
- Make your child as comfortable as possible.
- Allow time for recovery.
- Provide plenty of fluids. Infants may not feel like drinking, so offer them fluids in small amounts often.
- Treat a fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Be sure to contact your child’s primary care provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines or caring for RSV at home.
When Do I Seek Professional Care for RSV?
Most cases of RSV are mild and don’t require medical treatment. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case for every RSV diagnosis, especially with babies and young infants. If your child is experiencing breathing problems, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
The care needed for RSV is unique to each case. If you’re unsure if your child needs to seek professional care, it’s best to reach out to a physician for guidance.
RSV can be serious for infants who catch it, so it’s critical to recognize the signs of RSV. Be sure to wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces often this season to help prevent the spread.
For more information on RSV and if your child is high-risk, reach out to your primary physician.
By Natasha Kwachka, Employee Benefits Service Manager
In today’s world almost any need can be met with relatively instant gratification. Want to binge watch a show? Netflix. Need a Nicholas Cage sequin pillow? Amazon. Want to know how truffles are found? Google. But with so much information and so many choices, have you ever thought that you might be overindulging… in almost everything?
Sometimes I wonder if this path actually leads us to towards a successful, well rounded, and well lived life. Mentally, physically, or even emotionally, could this world of immediate gratification be damaging?
These thoughts often cross my mind as I raise my children, pour my soul into my job, and try to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. My own superficial needs become intermixed with the world’s ability to give me what I want, which often creates this continuous toxic cycle within me to strive for more, more, more… and give it to me now, please!
More information, more results, more material items. What could all this add up to? Will this be the road to great success? I often think not. But then, my competitive nature strikes, and I am compelled to seek out more again. So as of lately I have found myself asking the question, “What can I give up?”
Why must I feel the need to watch the entire series of my latest show on Netflix and know all the answers to the ending by midnight? Why do I think I have to try all the latest Reese’s released right when I see them? Why can’t I go to the store and buy a piece of décor one at a time instead of feeling I must redecorate my entire living room in one stop? What could possibly relieve this constant need for the “immediate”?
So as the days went on, I found myself implementing small, but manageable, changes. I slowly started taking away the race to the instant result in everything. I realized that I am in control of the speed of my own life. I don’t want to spend it constantly chasing the next immediate gratification, only to get there and realize I’m off to the next stop without even realizing why. I’m making conscious efforts to show gratitude for all that I have already obtained and experienced.
Such a small question has allowed me to find such a high level of peace.
What could you give up?