The Rise of RSV: What it is & Symptoms to Look for in Your Children

"Though RSV typically clears up in a week or two, RSV can cause complications in young children or older adults, potentially leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia."

You may be hearing a lot about RSV lately, but not because the virus is new. Discovered in 1956, RSV is one of the most common childhood illnesses, though it causes annual outbreaks of respiratory illnesses in all age groups.1 The only reason you’re hearing about it with more frequency these days is because it hit harder and earlier than usual in the days following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out what RSV symptoms look like, how COVID-19 impacted its spread, and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from catching the virus.

What is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that infects the nose, throat, lungs and breathing passages, resulting in  cold-like symptoms. It is considered one of the most common childhood viruses, with most children catching it by age two.2 

Though RSV typically clears up in a week or two, RSV can cause complications in young children or older adults, potentially leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It can also be dangerous for the immunocompromised. 

Like other respiratory illnesses, RSV can spread when a person infected with the virus coughs or sneezes and passes respiratory droplets to someone else’s eyes, nose or mouth. You can also catch RSV if you touch a surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touch your face. RSV can live on hard surfaces for several hours.3  

Where Did it Come From?

RSV was first discovered in 1956 from a laboratory chimpanzee with upper respiratory tract disease.4 It was quickly determined that the virus was of human origin, with species jumping occurring during its evolution. Research then revealed that the virus was the leading worldwide viral agent of serious pediatric respiratory disease and contributed to substantial morbidity and mortality in the elderly and in immunocompromised individuals. 

Why is RSV so Prevalent this Year? 

In the U.S. and other areas with similar climates, RSV cases generally start during fall and peak in the winter. However, because of the safety precautions put in place during the pandemic, such as masking, social distancing, and quarantine, many people did not catch the virus in 2020 and 2021. When restrictions loosened in 2022, an RSV surge was inevitable; in 2022, RSV cases hit harder and earlier than usual, with some infections even detected during the summer.5  Making things worse, the RSV surge collided with flu season and persistent cases of COVID-19, leading many to declare 2022 the year of the “tridemic.”

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Signs & Symptoms Your Child has RSV

After a person is infected with RSV, symptoms typically emerge within four to six days. 

Common symptoms of RSV in children include:

Infants with RSV may also have poor feeding, rapid breathing, and irritability. And because their lungs are not yet fully developed, complications may occur, leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Preventative Methods & Treatments 

If your child is infected with RSV, it’s important that you keep them isolated to prevent spreading the infection to others. People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days and may become contagious a day or two before they start showing signs of illness. Infected infants can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as four weeks. Keep in mind during the RSV surge that children are often exposed to and infected with RSV outside the home, such as at school or in childcare centers. They can then pass the virus to other members of the family. If possible, limiting their time in these contagious settings during periods of high RSV activity is recommended.

Some other ways to prevent RSV include: 

  • Making sure your child washes his or her hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer when water is not available
  • Keep your child away from sick people
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices
  • Promote healthy immune-boosting habits at home like following a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep

If your child ends up getting sick, antibiotics will not help speed up recovery time as RSV is a virus and not a bacterial infection. But there are several other ways to help them get better, including encouraging them to rest, making sure they hydrate often, using a humidifier, and managing their symptoms with homeopathic medication like Brillia Health products.

Unlike common over-the-counter cold/flu medications that overload your child’s system with harsh, synthetic chemicals, Brillia Health uses antibody ingredients to target symptoms without causing grogginess or upset stomach. Gently and impactfully, these ingredients locate and bind to the specific proteins in the body responsible for instigating cold and flu symptoms like cough, congestion, and throat pain, and halts their effects on the body. Clinical studies have proven that Brillia Health products reduce both the intensity and the duration of illness by working with your child’s immune system instead of against it. There are two distinct formulas to consider: Cold-Flu Recovery for multi-symptom relief and Cough Control, which targets both wet and dry coughs. Both products can also be taken together if needed. Please note that Cold-Flu Recovery is suitable for children one and over, while Cough Control can be taken by children three and up.   

When to See a Doctor

Very young children are most vulnerable to RSV complications, in which case a doctor should be consulted. This is especially true if your child is having trouble breathing, unusually tired, or appears to be dehydrated. 

Some symptoms requiring medical attention include:

  • Wheezing
  • High fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Blue or gray color of lips, mouth, or face

While researchers are hard at work to develop an RSV vaccine, none are available yet. Until then, using preventative methods is your child’s best defense against catching RSV this year or in the future. And working on having a strong immunity is just as important all year long. 

Find out more about how to treat respiratory illnesses and build a strong immune system at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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