Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
infection is a common illness that affects people throughout life. The first
infection is usually the worst and occurs in early childhood. About 9 out of
10 children have had at least one RSV infection by age 2.1
RSV infection spreads
easily where there are many people in one area, such as households, urban
areas, nursing homes, and child care centers. Because symptoms often resemble
those of the common cold, RSV infection is often not recognized. This virus is the most common cause of respiratory infection in
young children that requires hospitalization.
The tonsils are two masses of lymphatic (immune system) tissue located at the back of the throat. They produce antibodies designed to help you fight respiratory infections. They are small at birth and gradually increase in size until age 8 or 9. They begin to shrink around aqe 11 or 12 but never entirely disappear. When these tissues become infected, the resulting condition is called tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between the ages of 3 and 7, when tonsils may play their...
An RSV infection is more likely to cause
serious complications in infants younger than 6 months of age, especially those
who were born prematurely or have another health problem. Bronchiolitis
is the major complication of RSV in infants.
Other people who have
an increased risk of developing complications include adults older than 65 and anyone with chronic health problems, especially heart disease, lung
disease, or immune system problems. In older adults,
pneumonia is a common complication of RSV.
Levin MJ, Weinberg A (2009). Respiratory syncytial virus disease section of Infections: Viral and rickettsial. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 1079-1081. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
July 9, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 09, 2010
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