Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN
As the fall air sets in and little ones return to school, respiratory viruses are on the rise.
Whereas the focus commonly lies on COVID-19 or the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continues to spread rampantly through young children.
Prepare yourself this cold and flu season with these surprising, yet vital facts on RSV.
5 Surprising RSV Facts For Parents
This highly underestimated virus begins with mild cold-like symptoms but is potentially life-threatening.
Babies under 12 months can only breathe through their nose. When viruses like RSV lead to clogged nasal passages, it leads to respiratory distress.
Learn more by checking out these unexpected RSV facts.
1. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations for children under age 5.
An estimated 58,000-80,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized in the United States each year. The majority of these cases are infants.
Most often, RSV leads to common cold symptoms and recovery in a week or two. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly dangerous for some kiddos and older adults.
Populations at a higher risk of requiring hospitalization due to RSV are:
- Infants under 6 months of age
- Infants born with heart or lung conditions
- Premature infants
- Individuals with weakened immune systems
- Children who have difficulty swallowing
- Adults above 65 years old
- Adults with congestive heart failures
Symptoms of RSV include a running nose, sore throat, congestion, cough, fatigue, and fever.
Seek immediate medical attention for any difficulty breathing.
2. Antibiotics won’t help.
Since RSV is a virus, antibiotics aren’t the answer to treatment. Antibiotics are effective against bacteria and have no impact on these viruses.
If your little one has a mild case of RSV, talk to your pediatrician about managing it at home with these suggestions:
- Keep your kiddo hydrated with plenty of fluids.
- Pick up some saline nasal drops to loosen their mucus.
- Encourage rest.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier to help breathing passages.
- Provide over-the-counter medication to treat a fever or pain.
- Clear their nasal passages with a nasal aspirator
It’s important to talk to your doctor before treating your child with RSV. Never give a child aspirin, instead use ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
3. Almost all children contract RSV by age 2
This virus is incredibly contagious and spreads quickly through close contact.
Coughing, sneezing, and any other exchange of infected droplets spread the virus to others.
The RSV virus can live up to 6 hours on surfaces. If an infected person sneezes on a toy, your little one may stick that toy in their mouth.
Since babies often have fingers hanging in their mouths, they easily pick up and spread this virus.
4. An immunization was approved this year.
In 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved an RSV immunization for babies 8 months and younger.
It’s also recommended for children between 8 and 19 months of age who have compromised immune systems.
Additionally, an immunization was recently approved for pregnant women to protect infants from RSV immediately upon entering this world.
This single shot provides significantly increased protection to our kiddos from this potentially deadly virus.
5. Prevention starts with basic hygiene habits.
In addition to ensuring that your baby is immunized, preventing this respiratory virus begins with basic hygiene.
The same practices to prevent the common cold will minimize the spreading of RSV.
Teach your children the importance of hand hygiene and practice hand washing often.
Wipe down commonly touched areas such as door knobs, countertops, and toys.
If possible, separate a sick family member from the rest of the family to minimize the spreading of germs.
When your kiddos aren’t feeling well, be sure to keep them home from school, daycare, and other activities. RSV spreads very quickly in these environments with small children in close contact.
Review how to cover a cough appropriately with your kids. Cough into a tissue or your shirt to avoid spreading droplets.
Want more health facts and tips? You’ll love these:
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- What Parents Need to Know About Teething and Diaper Rash
- 7 Things NOT to Do After Giving Birth
- What Can Your Child Eat Before Surgery
Set an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to further discuss the prevention and treatment of this surprising virus.
As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India.
Let the Nozebot help you through RSV season
The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.