It's the time of year again where it's raining most evenings and causing people to be sick due to the weather. One of the illnesses most prevalent during cold weather is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV usually presents in healthy adults and kids as a common cold. This condition affected a small boy named Oliver about a year ago. View this post on Instagram A post shared by STEPHANIE \u2728 (@steph_and_carter) He was a healthy boy until one day he started getting restless, wasn't feeding and was constantly grunting and wheezing. Image credit: @steph_and_carter on Instagram His mum took him to two different doctors; both said that he was fine. When they got home, she noticed that Oliver couldn't breathe. She called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital right away. It turned out that little Oliver was RSV positive, which then developed into bronchiolitis and was put on Optiflow, a respiratory support to help him breathe. It had gotten bad overnight and had to be put on the CPAP machine, which is used to treat sleep apnoea. The little boy spent five days in the hospital. They were lucky to have brought Oliver in that night, as doctors said that he wouldn't have made it through another night. RSV Is a Serious Condition It's a common respiratory virus and is very contagious. It can happen to anyone, including adults; however, most children and adults who get RSV will have a mild case with regular cold symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Premature infants, babies younger than six months old, adults over the age of 65 and people who have compromised immune systems can get a more severe case of RSV. A severe RSV infection can lead to other severe conditions like pneumonia and bronchiolitis. It can also make existing heart and lung conditions worse. How RSV Is Spread As mentioned, this disease is very contagious and it's easy to spread the illness in the first few days or week of symptoms. Some babies and people with weakened immune systems may remain contagious for as many as four weeks after their symptoms start. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV spreads through close contact with a person who has the virus. If an infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus goes into the air around them and can get into the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. The virus can also live on hard surfaces like counters or door knobs. After exposure to the virus, it can take two to eight days before you'll start to have symptoms. It will generally last for three to seven days. Most children and adults recover fully in one to two weeks. Symptoms of RSV The signs of it show up in stages rather than all at once, and the symptoms of RSV can affect different age groups differently. Cleveland Clinic mentioned that the main symptoms of the virus include: \tcoughing \trunny nose \tsneezing \twheezing \tfever 1. Symptoms in Babies It's important to note that not all babies experience common symptoms of RSV, like coughing and a runny nose. Babies under six months old who get it may have these symptoms only: \tfussiness or irritability \tdecreased appetite \tminimal interest in activities \tchanges in breathing pattern If your baby is younger than six months, they may require a hospital stay to monitor their breathing and oxygen levels. 2. Symptoms in Toddlers Toddlers ages one to three may experience these symptoms of the virus: \trunny nose \tcoughing and sneezing \tdecreased eating or drinking \tless interest in playing \ttrouble swallowing \tbreathing faster than normal 3. Severe Symptoms in Babies and Toddlers You need to visit the emergency room or call 999 immediately if your baby or toddler has any of these symptoms: \tnoisy breathing \tflaring of nostrils with every breath \tblue or grey colour to their lips, mouth and fingernails \tbelly breathing or caving in of the chest in the form of an upside-down 'V' starting under the neck \tshort, shallow, slow or rapid breathing \tpauses while breathing 4. Symptoms in Older Children and Adults Recognising if you have RSV is also important so that you can keep your baby or toddler safe from this illness. The symptoms of this disease are similar to those of the common cold, and that includes: \trunny nose \tcongestion \tmild headache \tsore throat \tcough \tfatigue \tfever Common Ways It Spreads to Babies As this virus is very contagious, it spreads quickly through close contact with an infected person. Particles of the virus spread via fluid from a person's nose or mouth. As stated by the Cleveland Clinic, here are some common ways that a baby can get RSV: \treceiving kisses from someone who has the virus \ttouching an object or toy with an infected person's saliva or mucus on it \tan infected person coughing or sneezing near a baby This illness can be life-threatening, especially for premature infants and babies younger than six months. How RSV Is Treated If you want to feel better and help soothe the symptoms, at-home treatments you can try include: \tover-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat fever or pain; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions against giving aspirin to children \tdrink fluid to stay hydrated and eat regularly, even with low appetite \tnot smoking tobacco products or vaping \tusing a cool mint vaporiser to soothe dry breathing passages if doctor recommends \tapply saline nasal drops to loosen mucus in the nose \tblowing nose in a tissue to keep airways open or gently sucking excess mucus out of infant's nose \tgetting plenty of rest However, according to the American Lung Association, if you or your baby have severe RSV, immediate treatment by a healthcare provider is needed, and that includes: \tgetting oxygen using a mask, nasal prongs or breathing machine \tgetting fluids into your body by an IV \tremoving mucus from the airway using a thin tube \ttaking medications like antivirals Although there is a vaccine for this disease, it has only been approved in the USA and Europe, so let's hope that it's available in Malaysia soon. Preventing the Spread If you or someone you know has RSV, do make sure that you minimise the spread by covering the cough and washing your hands frequently. If you have visitors over to see your baby, establish a firm boundary that they're not to be kissed\u2014even if they are family, especially if they show symptoms of RSV. Keeping your baby safe is vital as RSV can be extremely dangerous to younger kids. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!