My son just celebrated his 5th birthday this weekend and we had a blast. I remember when he was born, I heard for the first time about RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and RSV season. I had prepared myself for a cold and flu season and I knew the risks of exposing him to daycare at 8 weeks, but I had never heard of RSV and I was slightly terrified.
Growing up, my family did not have health insurance so we did not visit the doctor for every sniffle or every fever. We practiced with home remedies and over-the-counter medications as much as we could and only went to a doctor when we were very ill. My husband, on the other hand, was a sick child and if he showed any signs of illness, his parents knew to rush to the doctor or he would be in great danger. Coming from two different backgrounds, Hubby and I have had to find a middle ground when it comes to our boy's illnesses. We have been blessed with a boy who does not get ill often. He had the flu once and croup once and our parental instincts kicked in both times and we knew instantly that he needed a doctor.
I would like to say that most parents have these parental instincts, but it is only through education and tuning into your child's mannerisms that you will truly know when and what to do. If your child appears to be ill, call and/or visit a doctor. It is better to be safe than sorry (cliché, I know) but RSV is not a common cold and it is not something to hesitate about.
Symptoms of RSV
• Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
• Fast or troubled breathing
• Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
• Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
• Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)
Prevention is similar to that of cold and flu prevention and is mostly common knowledge. It includes washing hands and children’s hands and asking others to do the same. It’s also important to remember to keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean and avoid crowds and other sick children during RSV season.
A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:
• Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
• Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
• RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
• Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
• Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.
• There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).