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Respiratory syncytial virus infection – causes, side effects and treatments at

Monday, July 02, 2018 by

Respiratory syncytial virus infection, or RSV, is a common virus that causes lung infection. It is usually diagnosed in children and older adults, however, the condition brings more serious complications to infants. While sufferers can recover from it in a week or two, some suffer from RSV longer, especially those whose conditions have led to severe illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis.

RSV can easily be transmitted from one person or object to another. It is considered a highly contagious disease as it also thrives on surfaces, clothing, and the hands.

Known risk factors and symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infection

The following are more susceptible to contracting RSV:

  • Premature babies
  • Children younger than two with chronic lung or chronic heart disease
  • Children with weak immune systems
  • Children with neuromuscular disorders
  • People aged 65 years and older
  • Adults with chronic lung or chronic heart disease
  • Adults with weak immune systems

Meanwhile, symptoms of the disease include:

  • Abnormal pace of breathing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • A cough
  • Fever
  • Colds and sneezing
  • Wheezing sound
  • Irritability
  • Lethargic
  • Labored breathing

Body systems affected by respiratory syncytial virus infection

Most of the time, RSV causes a cold-like symptom, however, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchiolitis

Food items or nutrients that may prevent respiratory syncytial virus infection

The following is a list of foods needed by the body to keep the respiratory system healthy:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Like in every other diet, fruits and vegetables are also vital in keeping the respiratory system in good condition as they are good sources of antioxidants. They help the body become stronger to be able to fight off infections.
  • Nuts and seeds – These are good sources of healthy, unsaturated fats, antioxidants and vitamin E.
  • Cold-water fish – Fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which help strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body. Cold-water fish are also high in protein, a mineral vital in tissue repair.
  • Whole grains – They provide a good combination of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Whole grains also give the body enough supply of carbohydrates needed by the body to function.

Treatments, management options for respiratory syncytial virus infection

Since RSV is a viral infection, most health experts advise drinking plenty of fluids and taking some rest. In some severe cases, oxygen supplementation, removal of mucus from the respiratory tract or intubation may be needed.

The following can also help relieve the symptoms of RSV:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Using a suction bulb to remove mucus
  • Propping the head higher to make breathing easier
  • Using saline drops

In addition, RSV can be prevented by observing good personal hygiene, keeping the surrounding clean, and staying away from people who are infected by the virus.

Where to learn more


Respiratory syncytial virus infection is a common viral infection which causes a cold-like illness. Most patients recover from it after a week or two, but young children and older adults may suffer from the condition longer.

Infants, young children, and older adults are more at risk of developing RSV while the condition’s symptoms include the same ones as a common cold or flu. RSV can result in severe illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

In terms of treating the disease, hydration and enough rest are recommended.

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