Did you know that there is no cure for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly referred to as RSV?
And premature babies are particularly at risk for developing severe RSV disease due to their underdeveloped lungs. I think we all know how fragile babies’ lungs are, but do you know how to protect their little lungs from this season’s biggest threat?
RSV is a common, seasonal virus that typically occurs between November and March in the United States and is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies in their first year of life.
Help Prevent RSV
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a highly contagious virus that causes inflammation of the lungs and can be deadly for infants. There is no cure for RSV, so the best way to protect your child is to prevent them from getting it in the first place.
Here are some measures you can take to help prevent RSV:
The first and best way to prevent RSV is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, and make sure your child does the same. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you are sick, stay away from your child as much as possible.
Another way to reduce the risk of RSV is to get vaccinated. There are two vaccines available to help protect against the virus: RSV-IGIV, which is given to infants and young children, and RSV-MAb, which is given to adults who are at high risk for the virus, such as healthcare workers.
If your child has a pre-existing condition that puts them at higher risk for RSV, such as asthma or a heart condition, make sure to follow their doctor’s instructions on how to manage their condition and take precautions to prevent RSV.
This may include using a nebulizer with medication, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and getting the RSV-MAb vaccine.
Taking these measures will help reduce the risk of your child getting RSV, but there is no guaranteed way to prevent the virus. The best way to protect your child is to be vigilant and take action if they begin showing any symptoms of RSV, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, or increased coughing.
If you are concerned that your child may have RSV, contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Other things you can do to help prevent RSV include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus.
- If you are sick, stay home and away from others to avoid passing the virus.
- Wash your baby’s toys, clothes and bedding often
- Don’t let anyone smoke in your home or near your baby (tobacco smoke irritates babies’ airways and affects the growth of their lungs)
National RSV Awareness Month takes place every October as a time to educate parents about the signs and symptoms of RSV disease as well as prevention measures you can take.
After all, prevention is key in fighting RSV.
Among the last organs to mature before birth, newborns’ little lungs prove highly susceptible to respiratory viruses, so it’s best to consider taking extra precautions.
The signs of RSV can be quite mild in some infants, and more severe in others.
You should look for the following symptoms if you think your child may have RSV:
- Fussiness or irritability
- Decreased appetite
- Coughing that does not stop
- Wheezing or noise when breathing
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
- Fever (especially if it is greater than 100.4°F [rectal] in infants under 3 months of age)
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness
- Runny nose
- Watery or decreased output from crying
If your child has any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away.
RSV usually lasts for 1 to 2 weeks. However, some people may experience symptoms for up to 4 weeks.
In some cases, RSV can lead to more severe respiratory problems, such as pneumonia, and may require hospitalization.
If your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, or if you experience any severe symptoms, be sure to see your doctor.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with RSV, there are treatments available to help lessen the symptoms.
Treatments for RSV include:
Antibiotics: If the person has a bacterial infection along with RSV, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Bronchodilators: These medications help to open up the airways and make it easier to breathe.
Steroids: These can help to reduce inflammation in the airways.
In addition to medical treatments, there are also some things that you can do at home to help relieve RSV symptoms.
Some home treatment options for RSV include:
Drink plenty of fluids: This will help to thin out the mucus and make it easier to cough up.
Use a humidifier: A humidifier can help to moisten the air and make it easier to breathe.
Elevate the head: When you or your child is lying down, propping up the head with pillows can help to make it easier to breathe.
If you have any questions about treatment options for RSV, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Yes, adults can get RSV, though it is most common in infants and young children. However, adults can develop serious complications from the virus, so it is important to take measures to prevent its spread.
If you are pregnant, avoid contact with young children, as they are more likely to be infected with RSV. If you must be around children, wash your hands often and Avoid kissing them.