If you have yet to experience your son or daughter suffering from RSV, you are the minority. The very fortunate minority, as most kiddos are exposed to the respiratory virus by the time they are ready for preschool. The intimidating part for parents is trying to decipher if your child’s symptoms are just a common cold, or RSV.
What is RSV? Respiratory syncytial virus is when the respiratory tract becomes infected by this extremely contagious virus. Mostly common for children under the age of 5, and isn’t typically an issue for older children with stronger immune systems.
How do little ones obtain RSV? It’s certainly more common in children that attend school or daycare full time, as well as any kids that are frequently in the company of tobacco smoke. Most importantly, RSV can be fatal. Roughly 125,000 children are admitted to the hospital annually in the United States for RSV treatment, and of those statistics show about 500 of them are fatal cases. Just imagine being those parents who presumed their baby merely had the common cold? This is why educating yourself on the warning signs of RSV can save your child’s life. Some signs to look out for are:
- Cold symptoms that seem to linger longer than a few days
- Coughing that doesn’t let up. Coughs can last for weeks
- If your baby is a newborn or up to three months old and showing signs of a cold
- Child is running a fever
- Wheezing; in babies they may not have any interest in laying down and require sleeping propped up to allow for easier breathing
- Rapid breathing or trouble inhaling
Is RSV preventable? You can certainly decrease your chances of having your child develop the virus by practicing good hand washing skills, using sanitizers, and keeping their living environments tidy, but overall if your child is in school or daycare you can’t always be there to wipe every germ they encounter all day long.
US News and World Report advises keeping your child away from cigarette smoking can also greatly decrease their chances of getting it. Premature babies are at a higher risk to develop RSV, and those that have been diagnosed with it have higher chances of developing asthma later in life.
Treatment for RSV is basically home care as you would for a bad cold. Some children require hospitalization for IV fluids or nebulizers. Some infants do qualify for a medication that can prevent RSV called “Palivizumab”, which is an injected med that is to be administered monthly throughout RSV season. Always trust your instincts if you think your baby is dealing with something more severe than the average cold or sniffle and have them evaluated by their pediatrician.