So Im not sure if you have read or seen in the news that different hospitals across the nation are becoming overwhelmed and so full that they are diverting patients to neighboring cities. New COVID strain? Nope. Not even a new virus. It’s RSV a common childhood infection that affects the throat windpipe and/or lungs. It can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. And it is highly contagious. It is spread by droplets so wether directly or from touching a contaminated surface it can spread. It’s usually more severe for kids younger than 2, kids born prematurely, and kids born with heart or lung disease, Down syndrome or any other chronic conditions. It’s most common from November to April. RSV has been affecting kids and adults of all ages across the US. Typically RSV season doesn’t start this early, nor has the virus been so severe for such a large portion of those infected. This makes for many issues from children missing school, to hospitals and doctors offices completely backed up and overwhelmed. This means kids with broken limbs and appendicitis have to be triaged in the waiting room because there is no longer space or beds due to so many needing treatment in the hospital. Doctors aren’t quite sure yet what has led this virus to being so severe this year as it typically in healthy individuals, other than babies and newborns, causes only cold like symptoms.
A little back story, over a week ago my kids were acting more tired than usual then started having a cough. My oldest has asthma and the weather is changing so with no fever no big deal right? This is just the beginning. A trip to the pediatrician, then again two days later to the hospital, and we find out what has been ravishing our entire household. My four year old tested positive for RSV. Because the entire family is sick we were told to assume we were all RSV positive. We took COVID tests at home to be sure we were not fighting off double viruses or something different and as predicted they were negative. My next thoughts were how do we protect our 11 week old son. As a mother all I know of RSV at this point is that we don’t want the baby to catch it because it can be very severe. So on Monday we went in to see the pediatrician so all of my kids could be rechecked because no one was getting better. This is on day 6. As worried parents we begin to start asking every question you can think of about RSV. And I wanted to share with others the things we have learned. We learned ways to manage symptoms and ways to prevent RSV.
First of all here are some symptoms that you can experience when you have RSV then I will talk about managing them.
- Breathing issues such as pauses in breathing while asleep, wheezing, shortness of breath and general difficulty breathing.
- Coughing. Often.
- Runny nose
- Eating less or loss of appetite
- Lethargic, less active than normal
- Irritated eyes
It is diagnosed by a swab test, chest X-ray and or blood tests depending on severity.
Let’s talk about treatment or management rather of the symptoms. Also always check with your doctor they can give you the best information for you particular case. So because RSV is a virus there isn’t an antibiotic for it specifically. You may be given an antibiotic for an infection caused from the rsv, an example would be for an ear infection. Or to prevent bronchitis. Ways to manage symptoms can include:
- Tylenol for fever or ibuprofen depending upon age and doctor recommendation.
- Saline to keep your child or your nose clear. For babies this means following up with suctioning out all the mucus.
- Humidifier in the room to loosen mucus
- Drink lots of fluids. This can even be in the form of popsicles especially when they are really sick.
- This is easier said than done (especially with two children who are sensory eaters) try to encourage a balanced diet
- Always monitor the symptoms as they can change rapidly and always seek medical care if something seems worse.
- Follow up with doctor visits if requested by the pediatrician.
- Keep rooms well ventilated and cool not hot or stuffy.
Now that i have shared some management tips I wanted to share some ways to prevent this yucky virus!!
- WASH HANDS OFTEN!!!
- Wipe surfaces often
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid people who are sick
- Do not go out when you have symptoms because rsv is highly contagious!!
- Wear a mask if you are your child have to leave the house while your infected.
- Use hand sanitizer
- Try to teach your child not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth during the time they are sick.
My family was bedridden from this, and although it was terrible and we are still getting over it, it could have been much worse. And I didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into at first because in the beginning there hadn’t been much in the news about it and no one talks about it much because it’s not usually this bad. But this year it is. I want people aware of it because COVID has stolen the spotlight for so long we don’t even consider the other viruses out there. And I hope that in writing this it will either help another family or mom, or adult in preventing it or identifying it quickly so they can begin managing the virus without spreading it more. Tell me in the comments if you or your family has dealt with rsv in the past or if you have been introduced to it this year.
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