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RSV - Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is commonly seen in the winter. Dr, Lucretia Carter, pediatrician at Tidelands Health, discusses RSV.
RSV - Respiratory Syncytial Virus
Featured Speaker:
Lucretia Carter, MD
Dr. Lucretia Carter is practicing at Tidelands Health Pediatrics, located at Tidelands Health Medical Park at Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach. Dr. Carter provides a broad range of care for patients from birth to young adulthood. She earned her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine and completed her residency at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
Dr. Carter is certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Learn more about Lucretia Carter, MD

Introduction: Better health begins at Tidelands Health dedicated to keeping the communities we serve healthy and active. That's why we're proud to present our podcast series Better Health Radio brought to you by Tidelands health. Here's Bill Klaproth

Bill Klaproth: So what is RSV? What are the risks, especially for your children and how is it treated? Let's learn more about RSV with Dr. Lucretia Carter, a pediatrician at Tidelands Health. Dr. Carter, thanks so much for your time. So let's start here. Can you explain to us what is RSV?

Dr. Lucretia Carter: Well, RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, and as it says in the name, it's a virus that we commonly see in the wintertime.

Host: Okay, so this comes in the wintertime and then who does this traditionally strike? Who is at risk for this?

Dr. Carter: Well, actually anyone is at risk for catching RSV, but the symptoms are more severe in the very young and the immunocompromised in particular babies who have not developed a strong immune system and anyone who may be immunocompromised or have a heart condition or lung condition.

Host: So does RSV primarily strike babies?

Dr. Carter: No. Actually it can affect anyone, for an older child or an adult. It's usually just a cold and it's a cold that tends to linger for maybe a couple of weeks, but it just seems like a cold, which is why it's easily spread. However, when a younger child gets it, it tends to be more severe, so that's why we commonly notice it more in the younger child.

Host: Okay, got it. So you were talking about it's like a regular cold, so what are the symptoms? What should a parent or an adult look for?

Dr. Carter: So, just as any cold initially you'll just see some runny nose, maybe a decrease in appetite or coughing and sneezing. The thing with RSV, some patients will present with a fever, others may not. So it can just look like a runny nose and a cough. In infants, however it can progress and sometimes they'll have wheezing and difficulty breathing on top of just the regular symptoms.

Host: And this can be contagious. Right. I think you said that?

Dr. Carter: Absolutely is actually quite contagious.

Host: How does it spread then?

Dr. Carter: So it's spread through the respiratory. So from sneezing or sneezing onto something and then picking it up. Basically if you're breathing the particles or ingest the particles, you can become infected.

Host: And then at what point should a parent or an adult seek medical attention?

Dr. Carter: Well, if the child is very young, certainly less than a couple of months of age. If they have a fever, absolutely see a physician. But most commonly if they're starting to have difficulty breathing or they're turning blue or you think they stopped breathing, absolutely you should seek care, immediately. But if it just seems like a cold, it's not getting better and it's just getting worse, they should see a doctor.

Host: Yeah, that's a good distinction. And I'm glad you brought that up. So then how do diagnose this?

Dr. Carter: So we diagnose it from actually testing the nasal secretions, just as if you were blowing your nose. It's actually is simple in office or in hospital test. And usually you can have the results within 15 minutes.

Host: Oh, that quick. That's wonderful. So then if a child or an adult has RSV, how do you generally treat it?

Dr. Carter: So unfortunately because it is a virus, there is no treatment to get rid of it any faster, more so just supportive care. So based on the symptoms of the child, if they are having difficulty breathing to the point where their oxygen level is decreased, then we'll give supplemental oxygen. Sometimes we'll have to give what we call high flow air or high flow oxygen where we'll use a device a cannula that goes into the nose that gives extra air and sort of a little bit of force that helps the hold their lungs open. That's usually a small percentage that would need that sort of care. But unfortunately you never know who would need that type of care unless you check them out.

Host: So for a concerned parent or adult, what would at home care look like?

Dr. Carter: So at home, plenty of fluids if you know they're an older child that can drink extra fluids, keeping the area clean, wiping down surfaces that may have been sneezed on. And otherwise it's really keeping the nasal passages clear as best as you can and making sure they're still eating. It's all about supportive care.

Host: So what steps can we take to help avoid and prevent RSV?

Dr. Carter: Well, the biggest thing is just good hand-washing, like any cold or flu. Washing your hands is really your best protection. Secondly, not sharing any, you know, cups or beverages. You know, it's easy when the slightly older child wants something to drink to sort of share your beverage. But if you have a runny nose or a cough, you don't want to do that because like I said, an adult looks like just a cold. But for a baby can certainly be more severe. Other than that, just wiping down surfaces that the child may come in contact with and also trying to avoid large crowds for the smaller child.

Host: That makes sense. So as we wrap up, Dr. Carter, anything else you want to share for a concerned parent that may hear RSV? Oh my gosh, what is that? What best advice can you share with us?

Dr. Carter: Well, the best advice is really just taking good care of yourself and those around you. If someone does have a runny nose or cough, keep them away from the little ones from the little babies, you know. And unfortunately lots of times RSV will spread before symptoms are shown in the person who is affected. So you can actually catch it before you realize that someone else gave it to you. So just good practices as far as covering your mouth when we do cough, washing your hands frequently, trying not to share beverages with others, especially during the winter time. It tends to peak between October and April. So those are the times when you really need to be extra careful.

Host: So it sounds like the best medicine, once again, is an ounce of prevention. And following those tips you gave us to avoid and prevent RSV. Dr. Carter, this has been really informative. Thank you so much for your time today.

Dr. Carter: Thank you.

Host: That's Dr. Lucretia Carter. And for more information, you can call 1-866-TIDELANDS to learn more or to schedule an appointment. You can also find more information, and if you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and check out our full podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Better Health Radio. I'm Bill Klaproth. Thanks for listening.