Respiratory syncytial virus is a common virus that can cause cold-like symptoms. But did you know it can be especially dangerous for infants? Learn why.

Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, is a specific virus that has similar symptoms to the common cold, but causes inflammation of the bronchioles (the smallest of the air passageways in the lungs).

"RSV causes what we call bronchiolitis, which is different than bronchitis," explains Andrew Gelfand, M.D., Chief of Respiratory Medicine at Children’s Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern. "The difference is that bronchitis is an infection or inflammation in the large airways, and RSV affects the bronchioles, which are the smallest airways of the lungs."

Older children and adults who have RSV may simply notice they have a bad cold. However, in infants or young children who have challenges with lung function for other reasons, RSV can be a challenging and even life-threatening virus.

Learn how to prevent and treat RSV in infants.