You’ve probably heard it discussed amongst your friends, in parenting groups on social media, and on the news - but what exactly is RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus?
RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, usually first appears as a cold. Although most people recover from this respiratory virus within a few weeks, RSV can be deadly for infants. The problem is that RSV can cause a number of other problems (pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and more) that often need treatment in a hospital if your little one is less than a year old.
What are the symptoms of RSV in children?
- Coughing or wheezing
- Runny nose
- Changes in activity level and appetite
For infants, in particular, RSV often appears like the common cold and even a mild one at that. The most worrisome aspect of RSV is that it causes breathing problems. Your child will show symptoms of the virus within 4-6 days of getting infected.
This year seems to be a particularly bad year for RSV infections. Pediatricians across the US have reported higher than usual numbers of RSV cases. Many babies and young children have to go to the ER, and some are even admitted to the hospital, while they recover from RSV because they often need oxygen to help them breathe.
Most RSV cases occur in the winter months - November, December, and January - so parents should be alert this time of year. It is hard to get actual numbers of RSV cases because RSV is not required to be reported to the CDC like the flu. But many doctors' offices and hospitals across the country are observing higher than usual numbers this year.
Why is RSV dangerous for infants and young children?
RSV is nothing to ignore. The CDC reports that around 57,000 children ages 0-5 are hospitalized due to an RSV infection. Premature infants and children with weakened immune systems are at an even higher risk for RSV complications. One of the biggest factors in RSV hospitalizations is that it often causes more worrisome illnesses such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Children who are hospitalized for RSV are often given oxygen and other measures to help their airways.
In very young infants (6 months or younger), RSV usually presents itself as decreased activity, decreased appetite, irritability, crying, pauses in breathing and sometimes fever.
If you have a young child who is susceptible to RSV, take extra precautions. Use good handwashing practices, sanitize household surfaces, avoid being around children or adults who you know are sick, and keep your child home if they are sick. Cover your coughs and sneezes, and teach your children to do the same.
Keep a close eye on your little one with the Dr. Kea Ear And Forehead Thermometer! With an accurate digital reading every time, this thermometer is lightweight, reliable, and portable. It is easy to use and uses infrared technology to get an accurate temperature reading. If your little one has a fever of 100.1 or higher for more than three days, contact your child’s pediatrician!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.