RSV: When to go to the emergency room

RSV: When to go to the emergency room

Jan 01, 2023

What is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the most common viruses that affect your child’s lungs and breathing. RSV is a respiratory illness caused by viruses, including rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. It causes cold-like symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, and cough that lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.

RSV can be spread through droplets or touching contaminated surfaces, door handles, or other objects in close contact with the infected person or sharing food with someone who has recently been exposed.

What are the RSV Signs and Symptoms?

The signs of RSV resemble cold or flu symptoms and may include:

  • A fever
  • Coughing is usually dry with mucus that disappears after a few minutes but can be persistent, especially at night.
  • Runny nose that is red and possibly with drainage, but not bloody
  • Chest congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Earaches (especially if they are sudden)
  • Headaches and neck stiffness on one side
  • Fatigue.

Visit an ER near you if your child has these symptoms and they don’t improve after 24 hours.

What are the Treatment Options?

Most children with RSV recover within two weeks without any special treatment. The virus usually lasts about a week, although it can last longer in infants with an especially high fever or are very young (babies younger than six months).

There are three ways to treat RSV: antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and supportive care. These drugs are used to get rid of the infection or reduce the duration of RSV symptoms. Supportive care includes providing fluids, maintaining oxygen levels, and treating fever.

When to Go to the ER?

Sometimes, however, RSV can cause serious breathing problems. If your child suddenly stops breathing or has trouble breathing and you’re concerned about RSV, it’s crucial to visit an emergency room for RSV right away.

The following conditions are serious enough to warrant going to an emergency room:

  • Wheezing or breathing problems that won’t go away after a few days of treatment.

  • Coughing up mucus, which could indicate pneumonia or bronchitis.

  • Difficulty eating or drinking and vomiting should be immediately handled because they may be symptoms of food poisoning or dehydration (which can lead to death).

  • A child with seizures should get emergency treatment in Houston because he may have meningitis—a dangerous inflammation of the space around your baby’s brain stem—or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

  • Extreme fatigue is another sign that merits immediate medical attention; you should call 911 if your toddler seems extremely tired all day long.

  • Fever above 101 degrees F (38 C) requires immediate treatment. The sooner he sees his doctor and gets treatment for RSV, the better he’ll do later in life.

  • Difficulty feeding: It’s common for babies six months old or younger who have RSVs to have trouble breastfeeding because of decreased milk production due to their illness; this may keep them from gaining any weight during this period and other complications.

What are the RSV Complications?

A few potential RSV complications can occur, especially in young children and infants. These can include:

  • Pneumonia is the most serious complication associated with RSV and can lead to hospitalization. Pneumonia caused by RSV tends to be more severe than other types.

  • Bronchiolitis is characterized by the inflammation of the airways in the lungs and can cause difficulty breathing. It is more common in infants and young children.

What Are the Treatment Options for RSV?

Treatment for RSV will depend on the severity and may include supportive care such as rest, fluids, and fever reduction measures at home. For more serious cases, hospitalization may be necessary so that the person can be monitored closely and receive treatment such as oxygen therapy or intravenous fluids.

Maintaining proper hygiene is also crucial, so clean your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Also, avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes without cleaning your hands.

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Memorial Heights Emergency Center for more information about RSV and how you can prevent it.

January 1, 2023
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