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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection - Exams and Tests

In otherwise healthy people, it is not usually necessary to distinguish respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection from a common cold. A doctor may suspect RSV infection as the cause of symptoms when there is evidence of a recent community outbreak. It is generally not necessary to confirm RSV infection with lab tests. But a medical history and physical exam may be done to evaluate symptoms.

A viral detection test may be done to confirm a diagnosis of RSV in symptomatic children and adults older than 65 who are at an increased risk for a severe infection or for complications. The test involves lab analysis of nasal drainage, obtained with a cotton swab or nasal wash. Testing may also be recommended for people who are hospitalized if the cause of symptoms has not already been determined and they have a high risk of developing complications.

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Understanding Bronchitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Tests are usually unnecessary in the case of acute bronchitis, as the disease is usually easy to detect through your description of symptoms and a physical exam. The doctor will simply use a stethoscope to listen for the rattling sound in your lungs' upper airways that typically accompanies the problem. In cases of chronic bronchitis, the doctor will likely get an X-ray of your chest to check the extent of the lung damage, as well as pulmonary function tests to measure how well your lungs are working...

Read the Understanding Bronchitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

The results of viral detection tests help determine whether precautions are needed to prevent the spread of infection. For children who are at risk for getting severe infections or complications of RSV infections, the results of these tests may help guide treatment, such as the need for medicines.

Certain tests may be needed if RSV symptoms do not improve or become worse or if complications such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia are suspected. These tests may include:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 25, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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