We are seeing a large increase in the number of viral illnesses circulating in the community. Particularly we are seeing more RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and are just beginning to see flu cases as well. There is an unusually high number of children requiring medical care for these illnesses for this time of the year, so we thought some reminders would be helpful!
What is RSV?
RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It is a viral illness, and can cause a range of illness from the common cold to bronchiolitis (inflammation in the lower lungs). This particular virus is extremely common in young children, though it can affect persons of all ages. It tends to affect and cause more severe illness in young infants and children.
RSV is associated with symptoms similar to a common cold, which include:
- Increased irritability
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite, poor feeding
- Difficulty breathing (can appear as wheezing or abnormally fast breathing)
When To Seek Treatment
Some mild cases of influenza or RSV may resolve with supportive care of symptoms at home. However, if you notice any serious symptoms such as breathing difficulties or a persistent high fever, you should seek medical attention. It is often better to be safe than sorry even when dealing with a mild case, as early evaluation can be key to determine if further treatment is needed. Very young infants and children with other medical conditions, like asthma, are at higher risk for more serious illness.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Flu testing is available in the office during a visit with one of our providers. We do not routinely test for RSV in the office, as there is no specific medication used in RSV illness, unless a child needs oxygen treatment. Based on the outcome of your evaluation, our providers will be able to recommend a course of treatment if needed to relieve symptoms associated with your child’s illness.
The Dangers of RSV
Respiratory syncytial virus is a virus that typically appears to be a common cold at first. RSV can develop into pneumonia and bronchiolitis in younger children and infants.
There has been an increase in emergency visits across the country this year from RSV and the flu.
How Parents Can Recognize Flu and RSV
Fall and winter are the typical seasons to see the highest cases of flu and RSV. Parents should be aware of the signs of RSV and flu and what to do if they recognize them.
Symptoms of RSV and flu can include the following:
- High pitched wheezing
- Runny nose
- No appetite and refusal to breastfeed
- Coughing and sneezing
- Trouble breathing/sucking in of chest between ribs and under ribs
- Lethargy or irritability
- Blue color around the mouth, lips and fingernails
- Difficulty breathing or apnea (long pauses in breathing)
Parents who observe any concern for breathing difficulties or respiratory distress should call our office immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. Parents who notice a significant decrease in wet diapers a day should contact our office. These can be signs of dehydration and low oxygen levels that may require the child to be admitted to the hospital for ongoing care.
How to Prevent RSV and the Flu
RSV and flu are spread through infected droplets from the mouth or nose. They can survive on hands and infected surfaces. It is important for parents to wash their hands frequently and keep surfaces clean. Be careful not to rub your eyes, especially if you have been around anyone who could be infected.
If you have any concerns or questions, or you would like to schedule an appointment please call our office at (303) 779-5437.