What the RSV Virus is, and how to prevent it

What the RSV Virus is, and how to prevent it

I am a pediatric nurse outside the home. I LOVE my job because I get to help kids get better and go home. I have decided to share some basic medical information about some of the common health conditions dealing with kids. This information is in no way a replacement for calling you primary medical doctor or pediatrician, so if you have any concerns, please be sure to call them right away.

First up, is a disease that hit very close to home. The RSV virus, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a major player among the younger kids.path2830-2-3

Why does this hit home? Last year around this time Tank came down with it. He required a full week in the hospital, of which 5 of those days were in intensive care.

Here he is when he was first admitted exhausted from breathing:

RSV Virus

RSV is a virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages. The symptoms of RSV are identical to the common cold. It causes a runny nose, cough, and congestion.  This virus affects infants a lot harder than older kids, and most adults will think nothing of it.  It can be so bad for babies, that those born prematurely will sometimes be eligible for a vaccine to try to prevent them from getting it.

The length of the virus is usually about 7-10 days, peaking around day 3-7. The treatment for RSV is nothing special. No antibiotics are given as it is a virus and not bacteria.  You just have to let it run its course.  Offer fluids, use a cool mist humidifier, and allow plenty of rest. If your child has lots of secretions you can use saline nose drops to dry up the secretions.

If you see signs of respiratory distress such as “belly breathing” or rapid breathing, call your doctor.  Depending on the age of your baby they may need to be checked daily until they start improving.  They may check your baby’s oxygen saturation (how much oxygen is going through the blood to oxygenate the organs).  This is a simple test that consists of putting a little red dot over a finger, foot or hand without causing any pain.

The best prevention of the RSV virus is good hand washing. Most people don’t even realize they have it because it is identical to the common cold. So when they sneeze or cough into their hand the next surface touched has the germs on it. Try not to panic, though, because by the age of 2 or 3 almost all kids have been infected at least once with RSV.

Tank was hospitalized for 7 long days, 5 of which were in the intensive care. And here he was on one of his last days at the hospital while we were weaning him off oxygen.

RSV in Babies, RSV in infants

He has no lasting effects and hasn’t needed a nebulizer treatment since. He does get the usual illnesses kids get and recovers without any problems, except of course causing me anxiety as I remember that hospital stay very well.

I much prefer to work in the hospital than to being a patient! (or especially having my child be a patient!)

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