Viral Lung Infections

Viral Lung Infections

Viral lung infections include acute bronchitis, viral pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). These viral lung infections usually begin as a respiratory virus that spreads to the lungs. If you have bronchitis you will usually have chest pain and a cough. Fever and fatigue are common with bronchitis, as well as a cough that persists for weeks or months. Acute viral bronchitis cannot be treated with antibiotics, and you must wait the virus out for a bout a week. Some people use an inhaler to ease their discomfort. Viral pneumonia can be an extremely uncomfortable illness, with a host of symptoms including coughing, fatigue, fever, aches and pains, and GI symptoms. While antibiotics are not indicated for pneumonia, some antiviral medications can help. Infants can develop both bronchiolitis and RSV at a young age, causing coughing and wheezing. If your young infant shows serious symptoms of cough, fever, and trouble breathing, contact your doctor immediately.

Recently Answered

  • 1 Answer
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    How you can prevent RSV infection in your baby:
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your baby, and ask others to do the same.
    • Keep people who have colds away from your baby, including brothers and sisters. Parents or other caregivers who feel ill should wear a mask and refrain from kissing the baby.
    • Don’t smoke near the baby, because exposure to tobacco smoke increases the severity of an RSV infection.
    • Avoid taking your baby to crowded locations, such as shopping malls.
    • Ask your baby’s doctor about a medication that can help prevent your baby from getting severe RSV disease.
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    How RSV is spread to babies:
    • By touching, kissing, or shaking hands with an infected person
    • Through the air by sneezing or coughing
    • From countertops, used tissues, towels, sheets, blankets, or toys (because RSV can live on these things for several hours)
    • In crowded households and daycare centers
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    RSV occurs in seasonal outbreaks, usually from fall to spring in most areas of the United States. However, a baby can catch RSV any time of the year.
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus that affects people of all ages. Most of the time, RSV causes only cold-like symptoms in infants and children. However, in premature infants or infants with lung problems, RSV infections can be a bigger problem.

    They can result in serious lung disease in premature babies, sometimes requiring or prolonging hospitalization. Premature babies are most affected because their lungs have not yet fully developed. These babies also have not yet received natural virus-fighting substances from their mothers.
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    AHealthwise answered

    Most respiratory syncytial viral (RSV) infections do not require prescription medicines. But medicines may be recommended for certain people to help:

    • Prevent RSV infection.
    • Treat RSV infection and its complications.
    Medicine Choices - A medicine may be given to infants and children at high risk for complications of RSV to prevent the infection or reduce its severity. Monoclonal antibodies, such as palivizumab (Synagis), are usually given in monthly doses for up to 5 months. This medicine can stop RSV from multiplying.

    Medicines to help treat complications of RSV infection include:

    • Corticosteroids. These medicines may be used if a child has an RSV infection and also has asthma or an allergic-type breathing problem. But corticosteroids are not used now as often as they were used in the past.
    • Antibiotics. Antibiotics help the body destroy bacteria and may be used to help treat or prevent complications that can occur from RSV.
    • Bronchodilators. They relax the muscle layer that surrounds the breathing tubes in the lung, allowing them to expand and move air more easily. This may help to reduce wheezing.
    What to Think About
    • Ribavirin (Virazole) is an antiviral medicine that is very rarely used to treat people with RSV infections who have a high risk of developing complications. Studies so far have provided conflicting evidence regarding its effectiveness. The doctor will consider the particular circumstances of the person being treated before making a recommendation about ribavirin.
    • Bronchodilators are effective about half the time for babies. Many experts recommend that bronchodilators be tried initially for babies who are having trouble breathing. If the baby is able to breathe easier right away, the medicine can be continued.

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    AHealthwise answered
    When to use home treatment - Most mild to moderate respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in otherwise healthy people are like the common cold and can be treated at home. If your child is older than 12 months of age and is not at risk for complications from RSV infection, try home treatment. But RSV infections in people with an increased risk of complications need close monitoring.

     

    People who have impaired immune systems need to see a doctor for cold symptoms because of the increased risk for complications. Also, babies and children -- and older adults -- who have health problems and other risk factors, should see a doctor at the first sign of RSV.

    How to help your child with RSV infection
    • Watch for signs of dehydration. Make sure to replace fluids lost through rapid breathing, fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Encourage more frequent breast- or bottle-feeding. Avoid giving your baby sports drinks, soft drinks, undiluted fruit juice or water. These beverages may contain too much sugar, contain too few calories or lack the proper balance of essential minerals (electrolytes).
    • Make your child more comfortable by helping relieve his or her symptoms. Sometimes a child may get some relief from medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or from being kept in an upright position, which makes breathing easier. Never give aspirin to someone younger than 20 years, because it can cause Reye syndrome, a serious bur rare problem.
    • Antibiotics are not usually given for viral infections. But if your child develops complications of RSV, such as an ear infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Do not stop giving antibiotic medicine when your child starts to feel better. The entire prescription must be taken to completely kill the bacteria. If you do not give your child all the medicine, the bacterial infection may return.
    • Take care of yourself. Caring for a sick child can be very tiring physically and emotionally. You can best help your child when you are rested and feeling well.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects almost all children by the age of 2, and reinfection throughout life is common. The virus spreads easily and is extremely difficult to completely avoid. Babies and young children who are in day care centers or frequently in public places are most likely to become infected, especially during the peak season. Older brothers and sisters in school often become infected with the virus and spread it to other household members, including babies and preschoolers. Sharing food, touching objects that are contaminated with the virus and not washing hands can lead to RSV infection. Older adults living in nursing homes or other group environments also have a higher risk of becoming infected with RSV.

    Babies ages 2 to 7 months of age have the highest incidence of RSV infection affecting the lower respiratory tract. Reinfection with another type or strain of RSV can occur within weeks. But later infections are usually less severe.

    With RSV infections, there is an increased risk of having complications, especially in certain babies and young children and adults older than 65.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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    AHealthwise answered

    In healthy children, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections tend to be mild and resemble a cold. Children who have only upper respiratory system symptoms, such as a sore throat or a runny nose, usually recover in about 10 to 14 days.

    Two different types and many different subtypes (strains) of RSV exist. For this reason, you cannot have full immunity to the virus and may have many RSV infections throughout your life. A child's first RSV infection, which almost always occurs by age 2, usually is the most severe. Certain babies and children have an increased risk of complications from an RSV infection because of a health condition or another problem. Also, babies have narrow breathing tubes that can clog easily, making breathing hard. The most common complications for young children are bronchiolitis and pneumonia, which are lower respiratory tract infections.

    Adults older than 65 have an increased risk of complications following infection with RSV. Pneumonia is a particular risk, especially if other health problems exist, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure.

    It may take older adults longer to recover from RSV infection and its complications than people in age groups.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is highly contagious, meaning it spreads easily from person to person. There are two main types of RSV and many subtypes (strains). For this reason, you cannot have full immunity to the virus. And you may have many RSV infections throughout life.

    People with RSV infection may spread the virus through their secretions (saliva or mucus) when they cough, sneeze or talk. You can catch the virus by:

    • Touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth without first washing your hands. The virus can survive for more than 6 hours on countertops and other hard surfaces, such as doorknobs and for 30 minutes on hands, clothing or tissue.
    • Close contact. If an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, you could breathe in RSV that's in his or her saliva or mucus.

    The virus spreads easily in crowded settings, such as child care facilities, preschools and nursing homes. Children attending school often spread the virus to their parents and siblings. The incubation period -- the time from exposure to RSV until you have symptoms -- ranges from 2 to 8 days, but usually is 4 to 6 days.

    You are most likely to spread the virus within the first several days after symptoms of RSV infection begin. You remain contagious for up to 8 days. Babies and young children may spread the virus for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

    Many different viruses can cause lower respiratory tract infections in children. These viruses can cause symptoms that are similar to an RSV infection.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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    For upper respiratory infections, such as sore throats, ear infections, sinus infections, colds and bronchitis, try the following:
    • get plenty of rest
    • drink plenty of fluids
    • use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
    • avoid smoking, second-hand smoke, and other pollutants (airborne chemicals or irritants)
    • take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (do not give aspirin to a child)
    For children and adults, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.
    Over-the-counter medicines may help relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, fever and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick.

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