Backspin nov_2017 - Page 21

healthspin by Farhan Siddiqui, MD Cold symptoms may signal severe infection Farhan Siddiqui, MD Runny nose, congestion, fever and sore throat might cause you to pass up tee time, but despite your partner’s urging, you don’t think it’s worthy of a trip to the doctor. You might want to reconsider. Your symptoms could signal a condition more serious than the common cold like respiratory syncytial virus infection or RSV as it’s widely known. Although it’s often associated with smaller children, RSV causes repeated infections throughout life. These infections are usually associated with cold-like symptoms, but severe respiratory illness may occur. RSV can be a life-threatening condition in some individuals. Infants born prematurely, infants with congenital heart and lung disease, children with weakened immune systems or adults whose immune systems are compromised (especially those with cardiac, pulmonary or immune conditions) should see a medical professional for evaluation. A severe RSV infection may require a hospital stay so that doctors can monitor and treat breathing problems. If you have difficulty breathing, a high fever or a bluish color to the skin – particularly on the lips and in the nail beds – you should seek immediate medical attention. Once you’ve had RSV, it’s common for the infection to return. There may even be a link between severe RSV in children and the chance of developing asthma later in life. RSV enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It spreads easily through the air. If someone who is infected with RSV coughs or sneezes on you, you can become infected. Or, if you shake hands with someone with RSV, you can pick up the virus by direct contact. Virus can live for hours on objects like countertops, cribs and toys. Just by touching the object and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes, you’re likely to pick up the virus. Because it is so easily spread, the majority of infants are exposed to RSV by their first birthday. Although many will have few or very mild symptoms, others will become very ill and may require hospitalization. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways that causes wheezing) and pneumonia among children under 1 year of age. In the United States, RSV season typically begins in late October and can last until April, usually peaking in January and February. The infection itself typically lasts two to eight days from exposure until full recovery. For more information, contact your health care provider or schedule an appointment with a North Oaks primary care expert at (985) 230- APPT (2778) or 1 (844) APPT-NOW (277-8669). 21