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Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections

What is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus. It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But it can cause serious lung infections, especially in infants, older adults, and people with serious medical problems.

How is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) spread?

RSV spreads from person to person through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Direct contact, such as kissing the face of a child who has RSV
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

People who have an RSV infection are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. But sometimes infants and people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus for as long as 4 weeks.

Who is at risk for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections?

RSV can affect people of all ages. But it is very common in small children; nearly all children become infected with RSV by age 2. In the United States, RSV infections usually occur during fall, winter, or spring.

Certain people are at higher risk of having a severe RSV infection:

  • Infants
  • Older adults, especially those age 65 and older
  • People with chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease
  • People with weakened immune systems
What are the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections?

The symptoms of RSV infection usually start about 4 to 6 days after infection. They include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

These symptoms usually appear in stages instead of all at once. In very young infants, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and trouble breathing.

RSV can also cause more severe infections, especially in people at high risk. These infections include bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.

How are respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, including asking about symptoms
  • A physical exam
  • A lab test of nasal fluid or another respiratory specimen to check for RSV. This is usually done for people with severe infection.
  • Tests to check for complications in people with severe infection. The tests may include a chest x-ray and blood and urine tests.
What are the treatments for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections?

There is no specific treatment for RSV infection. Most infections go away on their own in a week or two. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the fever and pain. However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four. It is also important to get enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

Some people with severe infection may need to be hospitalized. There, they might get oxygen, a breathing tube, or a ventilator.

Can respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections be prevented?

There are no vaccines for RSV. But you may able to reduce your risk of getting or spreading an RSV infection by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoiding close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils, with others if you are sick or they are sick
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Then throw away the tissue and wash your hands
  • Staying home when sick

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Restless Legs

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes a powerful urge to move your legs. Your legs become uncomfortable when you are lying down or sitting. Some people describe it as a creeping, crawling, tingling, or burning sensation. Moving makes your legs feel better, but not for long. RLS can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.

In most cases, there is no known cause for RLS. In other cases, RLS is caused by a disease or condition, such as anemia or pregnancy. Some medicines can also cause temporary RLS. Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol may make symptoms worse.

Lifestyle changes, such as regular sleep habits, relaxation techniques, and moderate exercise during the day can help. If those don't work, medicines may reduce the symptoms of RLS.

Most people with RLS also have a condition called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). PLMD is a condition in which a person's legs twitch or jerk uncontrollably, usually during sleep. PLMD and RLS can also affect the arms.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Seizures

Seizures are symptoms of a brain problem. They happen because of sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. When people think of seizures, they often think of convulsions in which a person's body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. Not all seizures cause convulsions. There are many types of seizures and some have mild symptoms. Seizures fall into two main groups. Focal seizures, also called partial seizures, happen in just one part of the brain. Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain.

Most seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and do not cause lasting harm. However, it is a medical emergency if seizures last longer than 5 minutes or if a person has many seizures and does not wake up between them. Seizures can have many causes, including medicines, high fevers, head injuries and certain diseases. People who have recurring seizures due to a brain disorder have epilepsy.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Tailbone Disorders

The tailbone is the small bone at the bottom of your backbone, or spine. Tailbone disorders include tailbone injuries, pain, infections, cysts and tumors. You rarely break your tailbone. Instead, most injuries cause bruises or pulled ligaments. A backward fall onto a hard surface, such as slipping on ice, is the most common cause of such injuries. Symptoms of various tailbone disorders include pain in the tailbone area, pain upon sitting, pain or numbness in the arms or legs due to pressure on nerves in the tailbone area, and a mass or growth you can see or feel.

Tears

You may only think of tears as those salty drops that fall from your eyes when you cry. Actually, your tears clean your eyes every time you blink. Tears also keep your eyes moist, which is important for your vision.

Tear glands produce tears, and tear ducts carry the tears from the glands to the surface of your eye. Problems with the tear system can include too many tears, too few tears, or problems with the tear ducts. Treatment of the problem depends on the cause.