Discover How to Protect Your Body Against RSV

Discover How to Protect Your Body Against RSV This Cold and Flu Season

Fall and winter are the designated seasons for cold and flu season. One of the largest contributors to illness during this time is respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

RSV is a respiratory virus. A respiratory virus is a type of condition that affects your throat, lung, or nasal and breathing airways.

Although anyone can contract RSV, RSV is most prevalent among babies, young children, and senior citizens ages sixty and up. Symptoms will often mimic the common cold. Left untreated, RSV can become severe and lead to more serious conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia.

What is the Difference Between RSV and the Common Cold?

What do COVID-19, RSV, and upper respiratory infections have in common? Each virus is a variant of the common cold.

There are a few principal common cold viruses: rhinovirus, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Although the symptoms across each virus remain pretty consistent, runny nose, cough, and fever, there are differences.

Rhinovirus makes up the leading majority of common colds. A rhinovirus infection includes the basic symptoms of a runny nose, sore throat, and itchy or scratchy cough. However, most rhinovirus cases are differentiated by the onset of headaches and a sore or achy body.

Like the common cold, coronavirus is an overarching term for many versions of the virus. One such version is COVID-19, a more severe and concerning coronavirus.

Typically, both rhinovirus and coronavirus infections clear up in about one to two weeks and do not pose any harmful conditions or side effects. RSV, however, can lead to more serious infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, which can have life-threatening effects.

How Do You Get RSV?

RSV spreads like most other common cold virus. You must come in contact with the virus either by being in proximity of an infected person who coughs or sneezes and passes droplets of the virus. This can occur through the eyes, nose, or mouth. You can also spread RSV before you show any symptoms of the virus.

Another way infection spreads is through touching a surface where the virus lives and then touching your eyes, nose, or throat. RSV can live on surfaces for several hours with cleaning or disinfection.

Being infectious after contracting RSV can last between three and eight days. The maximum time for RSV can be up to four weeks. More extreme timelines typically only incur in the super young.

What Do You Do if You’re Diagnosed With RSV?

The defined symptoms of RSV are:

  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • sneezing
  • fever
  • wheezing
  • loss of appetite

Other symptoms can include irritability and trouble breathing. These two symptoms are most notable in children and babies.

Unfortunately, there is no one-stop-shop medication to relieve or halt RSV once diagnosed. Remedies for RSV often include managing the singular symptoms with over-the-counter cold medications. This means staying hydrated, continuously drinking fluids, alleviating fever, and working to dissipate sore throat, cough, and sneezing.

Fortunately, most cases of RSV clear up on their own in about one to two weeks. Severe cases of RSV can be identified by dehydration and weakened breathing. People suffering from these more severe symptoms should seek a hospital or doctor’s care.

Explore Vaccines and Clinical Trials to Help Prevent RSV

Most people will contract RSV at least once in their lifetime, usually as an infant. But that doesn’t exempt you from contracting RSV in the future. You can take a few preventative measures to help lessen your chances of catching and spreading RSV.

Like other common cold viruses, you can help prevent RSV in your daily life by following these rules:

  • Staying away from others when sick (or when you think you’re beginning to get sick)
  • Covering your cough and mouth with a mask, sleeve, or other article that is not your hands
  • Washing your hands often
  • Refraining from touching your eyes, mouth, and general face area without washing your hands
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces around you, especially during heightened cold and flu seasons
  • Limiting your interactions with people and reframe how you interact with people, like kissing babies or young children

In addition to the universal forms of RSV prevention, three RSV vaccines and an antibody are available. At this time, RSV vaccines are only available for adults ages sixty and above and pregnant people between thirty-two and thirty-six weeks. Antibodies are available for babies and young children.

Pfizer and GSK provide the RSV vaccines for adults sixty and older. Each vaccine is recommended for adults over sixty years of age but is specifically recommended for those with chronic illnesses and underlying conditions, weak immune systems, and those living in senior or assisted living facilities.

The vaccine available for pregnant people is provided through Pfizer. Pregnant people are encouraged to get the vaccine if their thirty-two through thirty-six weeks fall in line with when the vaccine is offered. The vaccine works to protect the baby after birth as well.

The antibodies available for young children and infants are recommended between eight and nineteen months for those with:

  • Chronic lung disease from premature birth
  • Immunocompromisation
  • Cystic fibrosis and severe disease

· American Indian and Alaska Native children

RSV prevention is also available through a final method, clinical trials, and clinical research. You can find several RSV clinical trials available nationwide. Search through Wake Research clinical trials to find one applicable to you. You can search by state and then by condition.