It’s winter or early spring, prime cold and flu season, and you suddenly find your baby with a cough, runny nose, or refusing to eat. There’s a chance it’s just a common cold, but there’s also a chance it could be Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly known as RSV.
What Is RSV?
RSV is a highly contagious, but also extremely common, respiratory illness. According to the CDC, nearly all children will have had it to some degree by the time they turn 2. Although adults can also get it, it’s typically less severe. The affected population is generally premature infants, children younger than 2, children with weakened immune systems, children with congenital heart or chronic lung disease, and adults over 65 with compromised immune systems.
The virus typically presents with coughing, sneezing, and fever, sometimes with wheezing and difficulty breathing. In young infants, the only signs of RSV may be decreased activity, difficulty breathing, or irritability. Since RSV is a viral infection and not a bacterial infection, there are currently no antibiotics or vaccines available to cure the disease.
When To Call The Doctor
Call your baby’s doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Cough producing yellow, green, or gray mucus
- Unusually upset or inactive
- Refusal to breastfeed or bottle-feed
- Signs of dehydration – lack of tears when crying, little or no urine in the diaper for 6 hours, and cool, dry skin.
In extreme cases, if your child is having serious difficulty breathing, head to the nearest emergency room for immediate attention.
What Should I Do?
You can help your baby feel more comfortable by keeping him well hydrated, elevating the end of his crib to help breathing with a stuffy nose, using a bulb syringe to suction any mucous in his nose, and using a cool-mist vaporizer to moisten airways. Always check with your child’s doctor before giving any over the counter medications.As with many viral infections, the best way to stop the spread of RSV is to keep affected children home … It’s important to practice good hygiene, like covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and frequently washing hands.