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Tips To Steer Clear of RSV This Winter

Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, is a common infection of the respiratory tract that typically causes mild symptoms similar to the common cold. While most individuals who contract RSV recover without lasting effects, the virus can be serious in infants and the elderly. RSV infections in the U.S. are most common in fall, winter, and spring.

Like the common cold, RSV presents with non-descript symptoms including congestion, headache, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing. In many cases it is difficult to differentiate between a cold and RSV. The good news is that most cases of RSV run their course without any specialized interventions.

Vulnerable Populations at Greater Risk

Young children may present with more concerning symptoms such as irritability, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Individuals at the greatest risk of experiencing severe complications from RSV include premature infants, adults and children with preexisting heart, lung, or immune system conditions, and older adults. You should seek immediate medical attention if someone exhibits difficulty breathing, high fever, or blue coloring to the skin of the lips and nail beds.

RSV can be highly contagious and is transmitted through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is important to take precautions to avoid spreading or contracting RSV including regular hand washing, covering your cough or sneeze, avoiding close contact with others, and staying home from work or school for the three to eight days at the beginning of an illness when infected individuals are most contagious.

Serious complications of RSV are rare but may include hospitalization, pneumonia, ear infection, asthma, and subsequent infections.

Caring For Yourself

To manage the pain and fever commonly seen with RSV, over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers can be effective. Adequate fluid intake and healthy foods are important to ensuring your body can effectively fight the virus.

Boosting your immune system regularly may allow your body to fight off a potential illness before you get sick. A diet containing numerous fresh fruits and vegetables along with plenty of water can be helpful. Getting adequate sleep and managing stress will allow your body and mind to recover at night, leaving you refreshed and capable of handling the next day. Supplementation with a multivitamin, vitamins C and D, and zinc may be recommended after consulting with your doctor.

Taking care of yourself and being mindful of personal hygiene may be the difference between contracting an illness this winter or staying healthy. Be proactive; don’t take a chance with your health.

For RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in infants

  • Wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect hard surfaces
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils, with others.
  • Only let people touch your baby or young children after they wash their hands.
  • Avoid kissing your baby if you have cold symptoms.
  • Keep your baby away from crowds.