RSV risks are highest among young children

So far, this year there has been a lot of talk about the flu and a nasty GI bug, but another big annual infectious winter illness is RSV.

It is a common viral lung infection, seen most often see in young children. According to Dr. Ryan Stanton, it is part of a family of infections called bronchiolitis, which involves the midsized tubes of the lungs, and it is associated with inflammation and secretions that can hinder breathing.

RSV is characterized by fever, cough, congestion, wheezing, and respiratory distress.

"Younger children are at higher risk because their airways are smaller and softer, making them more likely to get obstructed," Stanton said. The highest risk is in children under 3 months of age, but children are at moderate risk until about 1 year old, after which it steadily decreases as children get older. Most children will have gotten RSV by the time they are two.

There is some risk in adults, but it is much less than in children, until the age of 65 when the risk increases once again, Stanton said.

"The best treatments are fever control, frequent saline bulb nasal suctioning, and more advanced therapies as needed," Stanton said. There is some new research that is promising involving high flow humidified oxygen delivery that is available in some hospitals and emergency departments. Pediatricians are invaluable resources for treatment and education. Of course, if there are significant symptoms or concerns, emergent evaluation is indicated.

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