If you watch much television you may have seen the advertisements about RSV and babies. If you are pregnant or have a small infant at home, this ad may worry you and make you wonder what RSV is.
RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. This virus is very common and causes symptoms that are similar to the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections. Yes, it can be serious and it can be recurring, especially in young children and infants.
This virus is so common that most infants under the age of 3 has had RSV at least once in their lives. Most cases luckily are mild and seem to pose as a cold.
RSV usually occurs in the winter months. The most common symptoms of RSV is nasal stuffiness, nasal discharge, cough and even ear infections. Some children even have low grade fevers. Usually, these mild symptoms will only last for about a week, except that cough which can last for up to two weeks.
Yet, RSV can be serious. About 100,000 children are hospitalized each year do to RSV. Basically, the child’s age plays a major part in the seriousness of the condition. If the child is a newborn or an infant, the virus can be more serious. These are the ages of the children that are generally hospitalized.
How can you tell if your child has RSV or just a cold? Basically, you have to watch your child. If the coughing seems to make breathing harder for your child, if your child seems more tired than he/she normally does with a cold or seems sicker, than you should take your child to see his/her doctor. Only a doctor will know for sure the difference between the cold and RSV.
How soon should you see the doctor? If your child is having trouble breathing, you should at least call your doctor and explained how your child is acting. If your child is under the age of one, you should also call your doctor, at the first signs of what appears as a cold or whenever you see signs that your child is having trouble breathing. More than likely, your doctor will want to see the child in person. That is the only way the doctor can give a real diagnosis.
How will your doctor treat the RSV if this is diagnosed? If your child is found to have a simple or mild case of RSV, it will be treated like a cold would. You will be instructed to give the child plenty of fluids. Remember there is no antibiotics that will cure a cold. But if an ear infection is included with the RSV than your child may then be prescribed an antibiotic. If, however, the doctor finds that your child has a more serious case of RSV commonly referred to as a lower RSV infection, than your child may be admitted into the hospital. Treatments in the hospital can vary. One common treatment, however is inhaled solutions which will help your child to breathe better.
The best way to keep your child from catching RSV in the first place is to keep him/her away from people who have colds. Remember this is a virus that spreads like a cold through germs in the air, from talking, sneezing, coughing and then touching the baby. If you or a family member has a cold, before touching the baby, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. That is the best way to stop the spread of cold germs.
If your child has RSV, yes he/she may get it again. But the next case will probably be milder because the child will be older and therefore stronger.
Don’t panic if your little one sneezes, just use common sense and if you feel you need to contact his/her doctor, do so. Parents usually can tell when something is really wrong with their child. Go with your gut instinct and try not to panic.