RSV (or (or respiratory syncytial virus) is one of the many viruses that cause respiratory illness―illnesses of the nose, throat and lungs. Typically, RSV causes a cold which may or may not be followed by a a lower respiratory tract infection (bronchiolitis) or pneumonia. Symptoms usually last about 5-7 days. Almost all children get RSV at least once before they are 2 years old. For most healthy children, RSV is like a cold. But, some children get very sick with RSV.
Cold Symptoms Vs. Bronchiolitis
Cold symptoms may include fevers, wet or dry coughs, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and fussiness or poor feeding in babies. Bronchiolitis can include the cold symptoms plus fast breathing, flaring of the nostrils, head bobbing with breathing, rhythmic grunting during breathing, belly breathing, tugging between the ribs and/or lower neck, and wheezing. Watch your child’s rib cage as they inhale. If you see it “caving in” and forming an upside-down “V” shape under the neck, they are working too hard to breathe.
Infants at Greater Risk of RSV
- 12 weeks old or younger at the start of RSV season
- Premature or low birth weight infants (especially those born before 29 weeks gestation)
- Chronic lung disease of prematurity
- Babies with certain types of heart defects
- Additional risk factos include mother smoking or being around secondhand smoke, history of allergies and eczema, not breasteeding, and being around children in a child care setting.
At The Pediatric Center
Call the Pediatric Center right away if your child develops any symptoms of bronchiolitis, symptoms of dehydration, pauses or difficulty breathing, gray or blue color to tongue, lips, or skin, or significantly decreased activity and alertness. Your Pediatric Center provider can diagnose your child by doing a physical exam, nasal swab test, or even a chest x-ray or oxygen saturation test to check for lung congestion in severe cases.
Treatment for RSV is similar to the treatment you would give your child if they had a bad cold. To make them feel more comfortable:
- Use nasal saline with gentle suctioning to allow easier breathing and feeding.
- Run a cool-mist humidifier to help break up mucus and allow easier breathing.
- Make sure they stay hydrated with fluids and frequent feedings. Try to suction baby’s nose before feeding.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if older than 6 months) can be used to help with low-grade fevers. Always avoid aspirin and cough and cold medications in babies and young children.
RSV is spread just like any other common-cold virus through direct person-to-person contact with saliva, mucus, or nasal discharge. To prevent RSV, limit your child’s exposure to crowds, other children, and anyone who is sick. Disinfect objects and surfaces in your home regularly, and feed your baby breastmilk which has unique antibodies to prevent and fight infections. One of the best things you can do to prevent RSV or any other illness is to WASH YOUR HANDS! Scrub for at least 20 seconds with soap and water!
Call The Pediatric Center
At the Pediatric Center, we want to give you and your child the best information and diagnosis, you can get. If you are noticing any severe cold or bronchiolitis symptoms in your child, don’t hesitate to call your doctor at the Pediatric Center. You can contact us at our Idaho Falls location at (208) 523-3060 or our Rigby location (208) 745-8927, to set up your appointment.
Some content provided by healthychildren.org