Respiratory Syncytial Virus - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Respiratory Syncytial Virus - Medical Malpractice
Respiratory syncytial virus is also called RSV. It is a common disease of infants and toddlers that affect the lungs and the respiratory tract. It actually affects almost all babies before the age of two although it can be seen in older children and adults. You only get the disease once. Infections in adults are mild, such as mild respiratory symptoms like a cold. The same is true if older children get the disease. In babies, the disease is much more severe because they have such small airways and get lung infections such as RSV pneumonia. It can also be severe if you are an adult that has other medical problems such as lung diseases or heart disease.
Symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infections occur about 4 to 6 days after exposure to the RSV virus. In adults and children who are older, there is often nasal congestion, dry cough, sore throat, malaise, low grade fever and mild headache. In babies, the symptoms are much more severe and include pneumonia like symptoms, including a high fever, wheezing, moist cough, trouble breathing, the need to sit up to breathe, cyanosis and tachypnea or rapid breathing. The symptoms in babies can be life threatening and need hospitalization in some cases. The baby often eats poorly and will be lethargic or irritable.
Recovery from an RSV infection takes from one to two weeks or more. Babies tend to have the disease longer and more severely so you need to consider taking the child to the emergency room to have a thorough evaluation and treatment. It is important to seek the doctor's attention any time the baby is having trouble breathing, wheezes, or seems cyanotic around the lips, hands, feet or head. A high fever that won't drop down with the usual methods should be attended to by a physician or it may mean the child needs to be hospitalized.
RSV gets into the body via touching the eyes, nose or mouth with your infected hand or through a droplet. It can happen when someone who has the disease sneezes or coughs on you and the droplet gets into the nose, mouth or eyes. Even shaking hands with another person who has the disease can trigger the infection if you touch your mouth, nose or eyes afterward. RSV is exceedingly contagious and passes quickly through daycares or families. Contagion is most likely before you actually get the infection or when you first develop the symptoms. It can spread even after you recover from the disease for a few weeks later.
Children most at risk for respiratory syncytial virus include those from larger families or those kids who spend a lot of time in daycare. Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke or live in areas high in pollution get more severe cases of RSV. The RSV season begins in the fall and ends in the spring. Kids younger than 6 months of age tend to get RSV more severely and premature children tend to get the disease in a more severe fashion. Children with heart conditions or other medical conditions are at greater risk for severe disease. Poor immunity contributes to getting severe RSV infections.
If you are unlucky enough to be an older person before you get RSV, you can get a more severe infection than a person who is of a younger or middle age. Patients with HIV or AIDS tend to get RSV infections readily and more severely. Those with COPD or CHF have a higher risk of severe RSV infections.
The diagnosis of RSV is a chest x-ray that can show pneumonia or bronchial disease. Pulse oximetry can show how much oxygen is in the system; this level is low in severe RSV infections. Blood can show elevated or low white blood cell count and nasal swabs or throat swabs can show the RSV virus in the respiratory system.
There are few good treatments for RSV besides a vaccination for RSV. The use of antibiotics is controversial in RSV because they are ineffective unless there is a bacterial superinfection. Parents can give the child ibuprofen or Tylenol for relief of pain and fever, and medications to control the congestion can be given with some results. If hospitalization happens, the doctors use humidified air and IV fluids to support the child until he or she gets better. Mechanical ventilation may be required in severe cases where the child cannot breathe on his or her own. Albuterol nebulisations are given to open up the airways and help the child breathe better.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here