Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that infects the lungs and airways of the respiratory system. The virus is incredibly common, and symptoms are usually mild and cold-like. RSV is usually of minimal concern to normally healthy adults and older children, though it can be serious in young children and the elderly. Severe cases of RSV can potentially lead to more dangerous respiratory issues, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
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Symptoms of RSV are generally quite mild, and typical self-care methods are usually sufficient for recovery. However, in cases regarding infants, children, and older adults, RSV has the potential to lead to more serious respiratory issues, and possibly infection. Usually, RSV does not need medical attention, though if any of the more serious symptoms arise, particularly bluish skin or lips due to lack of oxygen, a professional should be sought immediately.
RSV is a contagious virus that is caught by way of the mouth, nose, or eyes. RSV is most easily spread by coughing or sneezing. A person may remain contagious for a few weeks after becoming infected.
Diagnosis of RSV is performed with a stethoscope. A doctor will listen to the patients breathing to discern if the airways sound abnormal, such as during coughing or wheezing. As RSV tends to be more common during fall, winter, and spring, the doctor may also consider the time of year when performing a diagnosis. Additionally, pulse oximetry, a measurement of the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, may be performed.
Most cases of RSV can be treated by taking proper self-care measures. If hospitalized due to RSV, more extensive forms of treatment will be necessary.
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