RSV, Bronchiolitis, and Your Baby
Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV for short, is a virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages and will affect almost all children before they are two years old. When healthy children get RSV it will effect them just like a cold but some children can become very sick when they contract RSV. RSV is the main cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis-an infection that causes swelling in the lining of the small breathing tubes of the lungs, making it difficult to breath. Both pneumonia and bronchiolitis are very serious illnesses and may require hospitalization in severe cases. When a child gets RSV that turns into something more serious this can be very scary for parents and children. Symptoms to look for are:
- Runny nose
- Low fever
Children will start to show symptoms within four to six days once they are infected with the virus.These symptoms should go away within five to seven days and should be treated the same way as you would treat a cold. In the United States RSV is usually more common during the fall, winter and spring months. However, this can vary depending on the type of community.
What causes RSV to be more serious than just a common cold?
For a number or reasons RSV can be potentially more serious than just the common cold. If any of the true are following for your child, RSV can be dangerous and lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
- Babies that are born more than eight weeks early ( before the 32 week mark)
- Babies that are born with a severe heart or lung disease
- Babies that are younger than six weeks old
RSV can also cause health risks for young children that have the following:
- Problems fighting disease because of a weak immune system
- Serious heart problems
- Chronic or long term lung disease or issues
What are some at home treatments to alleviate the symptoms of RSV?
Thin the mucus. To help a stuffy nose you want to thin the mucus. To do this you will want to use saline solution (saltwater) unless something else has been prescribed to you by your doctor. Check with your doctor before using anything else.
Clear the nose with a suction bulb. This works best with children younger than six months old. First squeeze the bulb and then gently insert the rubber tip into the nostril and slowly release the bulb. This will suck out the excess mucus in the nostril, clearing the airways and making it easier for baby to breath.
Humidifiers work wonders for a stuffed up nose. Parents will want to use a cool mist humidifier in the child’s room. A humidifier puts water into the air to help relieve your child’s stuffy nose. Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly to avoid bacteria.
Cold Medicine. Do not give your child any type of medicine without consulting your doctor first.
How can I treat a fever caused by RSV?
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Give your baby ibuprofen or acetaminophen if they are older than six months old. Make sure to purchase the correct type of medicine based on their age. Call the doctor for correct dosage for your child. Do not give your baby aspirin. This is dangerous to give anyone under the age of eighteen without consulting a doctor first.
Make Sure to Keep Your Child Hydrated
Your baby is dehydrated and may have trouble sucking or nursing while they are sick. It is crucial to make sure that they are getting enough liquids and staying hydrated. Your baby may prefer clear liquids over formula or milk. Make sure to consult with your doctor if your child is younger than six months old before giving them anything other than formula or milk. Try offering water or watered down juice a little at a time. It might be harder for baby to drink since they are having a hard time breathing.
When to call the doctor.
You will need to contact your pediatrician at The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls if you baby is showing any of these signs:
- Not wanting to eat
- Trouble breathing or not breathing as usual
- Acting fussy or restless
What to expect during your visit with the doctor.
Your doctor at the Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls, will first check to see what type of infection your child has. Your doctor will also discuss the best type of treatment for your baby. In severe cases the child may need to stay at the hospital for a few days until they are healthy. In more severe cases the infant may need to be given supplemental oxygen and/or require intubation.
Call 911 if your baby shows any of these signs:
- Baby’s lips and fingertips turn blue.
- Baby stops breathing.
Is RSV preventable?
It is important to keep your child healthy and safe. There are some measures you can take as a parent to ensure that your child has the least amount of exposure to this virus. If your child is younger than six months:
- Have anyone who is going to hold or touch your baby wash their hands before doing so.
- Do not smoke around your baby.
- Do not allow anyone with a stuffy or runny nose to be around your baby.
- Don’t take your baby to crowded places like the grocery store or a shopping mall.
Another measure you can take to prevent your child from becoming infected with the RSV virus is getting a flu shot.All babies, older than six months old can get flu shots. Make sure the whole family is up to date on their flu shots as well!
The Pediatric Center is here for you.
If you are not sure if your baby will possibly develop a more serious illness once they become infected with the RSV virus get in touch with your doctor at The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls. Your baby may require special shots to prevent any of the serious illnesses that can be caused by RSV. Call (208) 523-3060 to schedule an appointment at The Pediatric Center with one our highly trained physicians today.