Can RSV Bronchiolitis Permanently Damaged My Son’s Lungs?

My eight-year-old was diagnosed with asthma at nine months after being hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). They had hoped he would out grow it. Could the RSV virus have permanently damaged his lungs?

Respiratory syncytial virus is a common cause of lower respiratory infection (RSV broncholitis). The airways of laboratory animals do become hyper-responsive in the acute period after the infection and remain sensitized to allergens for some time period afterward.

Infants infected in the first year of life are more sensitized to allergens and susceptible to asthma as well — and this risk is increased if allergies and asthma run in the family. There was one “good news” report, using sophisticated lung functions, that suggested a better lung function after acute infection than was previously reported.

Many more studies are needed to fully answer your question but it appears that a significant number of kids will have asthma following RSV infection in infancy. While the data seem to support the association and causative role of RSV in your son’s asthma, I would not describe this as “permanently damaged lungs.”

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