Guest Post By Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN
Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, can cause severe respiratory disease in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV is the cause of over 2 million outpatient visits in children younger than 5. Additionally, RSV is responsible for approximately 58,000-80,000 hospitalizations annually in children under 5.
10 Things to Do When You Come Home From The Hospital With RSV
If you find yourself one of the many families who experience hospitalization due to RSV, here are ten things to do when you come home from the hospital with RSV.
Maintain Fluids and Hydration
When sick, kids often don’t drink as many fluids as they should. So even if you are discharged from the hospital, your little one may still be under the weather and not 100%. If they are an infant on formula or breastmilk, stick with those fluids unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
For older kids taking solids, offer small amounts of water frequently. If your child avoids plain water, consider offering other fluids such as popsicles or a pediatric electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte®.
Help Clear Congestion
Your little one’s nose may still be stuffy when they leave the hospital, which can cause discomfort, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty eating if they are infants. Nasal saline can help loosen up congestion. Also, consider a nasal aspirator, such as the NozeBot. The NozeBot is a great tool to help clear little noses.
Humidifiers and Steam
Another way to help loosen nasal secretions and clear little noses is through additional air moisture. For example, consider a cool mist humidifier in the bedroom. You can also run hot water in a bathroom for steam and then play with your child in the steamy bathroom or give them a bath in the humid room.
Treat Pain and Fever
RSV can make children feel pretty miserable. Ask your healthcare provider for dosing instructions. However, generally, per Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, children two months of age and older can receive acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol®), and children six months of age and older can generally receive ibuprofen (commonly known as Children’s Motrin®).
Consider Honey to Help with Cough
If your child is old enough, you can consider trying honey to help with a cough. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explains honey can work just as well as over-the-counter cough medications and has fewer side effects.
However, honey can be incredibly dangerous in children under one due to an infection called botulism. So make sure to avoid this remedy in children under a year old.
Take Any Prescribed Medications as Directed
After getting discharged for RSV, your healthcare provider may have prescribed your child medications to help them recover. For example, your child may go home with an inhaler to help them breathe.
If your child goes home with medications, it is essential to take them as prescribed. If you have questions about your child’s medications, a pharmacist or healthcare provider are great resources.
Go to Follow-Up Appointments
After your child is discharged from the hospital, they will likely have follow-up appointments with their primary care provider. It is important to keep these appointments so your child receives necessary follow-up care.
Your healthcare provider will listen to your child’s lungs, observe their breathing and ensure they continue to recover appropriately. If you have concerns about your child’s recovery, it is vital to reach out and keep in touch with your provider. They may want to see you sooner, or they may be able to provide advice over the phone.
Call Your Doctor or Seek Care if Symptoms Worsen
Generally, once you are discharged from the hospital, you are good to go home. However, there are instances when a child needs to be readmitted. If simple home measures aren’t keeping your child comfortable, or you are concerned about their breathing, seek medical care.
While uncommon, it is possible to catch RSV a second time. Additionally, there are several respiratory bugs that circulate during RSV season, such as influenza. Therefore, it is essential to pay special attention to hand washing while your child is recovering from RSV to help prevent additional illnesses and stay healthy.
Lots of Snuggles
When you come home from the hospital, it may be tempting to feel like you need to catch up around the house. However, hospital stays can take a lot of you and your little one. Also, chances are your child is still recovering when sent home.
This is a time when extra snuggles are in order. Let yourself turn on your child’s favorite show or movie, read lots of books, rest together, and snuggle. While medications and the other measures discussed can all help your child feel better, snuggles and distractions such as a great movie are good, too.
Bonus Tip: Self Care
Caring for a sick child is draining, especially if a hospital stay is involved. But this is a time when self-care is important. If you have a partner, ask if they can watch or snuggle your little one while you go for a walk or take a hot bath. Or, maybe there are friends and family who can help provide meals or watch your little one so you can catch a few minutes to yourself.
As challenging as it can be to step away when taking care of a sick child, it is important to catch a few minutes to yourself to allow yourself to decompress.
Experiencing a hospital stay with a child is always stressful. And watching your child struggle to breathe during a case of RSV can be especially scary. So make sure to follow any special discharge instructions and help your child stay as comfortable as possible during their recovery.
If you are looking for more information about RSV, check out these articles:
- RSV Vaccine vs. RSV Shot—What Parents Need To Know
- 5 Tips to Prevent The RSV Virus From Entering Your Home
- 5 Key Signs of RSV
- What Parents Need to Know About RSV
If you have questions or need additional guidance, your healthcare provider is a great resource to help you and your child.
Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN, is a mother of four and a registered nurse with a background in pediatrics. When she's not working, you can find her cooking up tasty family dinners or keeping up with her kids on a hiking trail in her home state of Colorado.
Have the NozeBot handy when you come from from the hospital with RSV
The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.