It is never too early to consider prevention rather than attempting a cure. I have talked about the problem with a virus call RSV which stands for respiratory syncytial virus. This is a virus that in the past we usually considered in the pediatric population but is now becoming much more common in adults where it can cause more severe disease.

Every year 60,000 to 120,000 older adults are hospitalized with RSV and 6,000 to 10,000 die from this infection each year. There are many stories of middle aged and older adults who have contracted this infection and spend days or even weeks in the hospital, especially if they have an underlying pulmonary disease such as COPD or asthma.

What can you do to lower your risk and getting this infection and preventing severe disease? First, if you have an underlying lung disease be sure that you are doing all you can to control your symptoms. Take your medications and tell your physicians if you are having an exacerbation. Second, when possible, stay away from individuals that are sick. Thirdly, wash your hands and try not to touch your face with unwashed hands. Lastly, stay current with your immunizations and consider getting a specific vaccination against the RSV virus. This immunization is new and should be available to the most vulnerable patients by the fall.

Remember, RSV is no longer just a pediatric disease but one that has moved into the adult age groups especially those with know lung disease.