What You Need to Know About RSV

Nov 01, 2023
What You Need to Know About RSV
You had your flu and COVID shots. Is the new RSV vaccine necessary, too? Get a personal consultation from the experts at Primary & Urgent Care South. They can help determine how best to keep you and your family healthy all fall and winter.

Chances are you or your child has had Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) at some point and didn’t know it. The symptoms of RSV are generally mild and similar to those of many other viruses and include coughing, sneezing, fever, headache, and a runny nose. But that isn’t always the case. 

If RSV invades the lungs, it can cause vulnerable people to develop life-threatening complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis and exacerbate conditions like asthma or COPD.

Increasingly, RSV has caused severe disease in infants, young children, and older adults. Between 60,000 to 160,000 adults over 65 are hospitalized with RSV annually, as are 58,000 to 80,000 children under age five.

In preparation for the 2023-2024 RSV season, which coincides with the COVID and flu season, the medical providers at Primary & Urgent Care South take time out to explain everything you need to know about RSV.

Like the CDC, the Primary & Urgent Care South team recommends that high-risk populations get the RSV vaccine formulated for their age group. 

This includes:

  • Adults aged 60 and over, especially those with weakened immune systems or underlying issues like chronic lung or heart disease. Healthy adults in this age range should discuss the vaccine with their Primary & Urgent Care South practitioner.
  • Pregnant individuals between 32-36 weeks of pregnancy. This vaccine protects newborns at birth. 
  • Children between 8 and 19 months who were born premature or have other specific immunocompromising conditions, like lung disease.

Understanding RSV

Though RSV has similar symptoms to other respiratory ailments, it has a few unique characteristics, too:

  • RSV can sweep rapidly through households and communities, making early precautions crucial.
  • A dry, persistent coughing is a classic symptom.
  • RSV often lingers longer than a cold.

Confirmation through laboratory testing is usually necessary. Even people with mild RSV symptoms can transmit the virus to others.

Managing RSV 

No specific treatment or medication exists for RSV. Like many other viruses, the best course for mild symptoms is staying hydrated and getting rest.

If you have conditions like COPD or asthma, adhere to prescribed medications to alleviate breathing difficulties. Consult your provider to discuss potential adjustments to your medications.

The RSV vaccine and other preventive measures

The vaccine boosts your immune response against RSV and reduces the severity of symptoms and complications.

RSV typically spreads through respiratory droplets, primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be transmitted by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching one's face. Proper handwashing hygiene and avoiding close contact with individuals displaying symptoms is key.

During the peak RSV season – fall through winter –  wear a mask and social distance in crowded indoor settings.

For further information about RSV, an assessment of your risk factors, or consultation about new vaccines, call us, use our online booking tool, or walk into one of our locations. We have offices in Warrior, Alabama, and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida