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RSV Explained: What to Watch Out For B3 Healthy
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RSV Explained: What to Watch Out For
RSV Explained: What to Watch Out ForPresented by: Premier PediatricsDr. Robert Dowse PEDIATRIC HINTS:The baby has a cold, a runny nose and a harsh cough. She’s breathing in rapid, labored grunts. There is a low-grade fever and poor appetite. There have been a few spit-ups. Her brothers both have colds. But the baby’s cold seems like something more. In fact, to her parents, she appears slightly blue. Worried, they take her to the emergency room. Diagnosis: RSV -- Respiratory Syncytial Virus.It’s a good thing they acted. RSV is the No. 1 cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infants and young children. RSV is a major reason why children have to be hospitalized in wintertime. It’s likely the granddaddy of all colds – as dangerous as croup and pneumonia. While it is rarely fatal, respiratory problems during the illness can be severe. Indeed, RSV is the major cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in this age group.Every winter, we in healthcare brace ourselves for another epidemic of this damaging infection. And every year, we have to tell new sets of worried parents: there’s no miracle cure.What is RSV? RSV is an infection in the child’s breathing system that often causes other diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Its main signs: a bad cough, massive congestion, fast breathing, wheezing and a fever. In most infants, RSV lasts for 7-21 days. When hospitalization occurs, it is usually for 4-7 days. Studies show that just about everyone on earth is exposed to RSV within the first 2 years of life, usually in the winter. Most cases involve children 2 years or younger. The good news: most cases are mild and do not require hospitalization or special medicines. Working with your child’s physician, you can manage most cases of RSV just fine, at home.How is RSV spread? RSV is carried in the tears or mucus that spread from one child’s hand to another. Or it is coughed into the air. The RSV virus can live on a countertop for several hours! The virus doesn’t give the tiniest child a break: it is common in newborns and infants only weeks old. Chances are, they catch it from siblings, or from admiring visitors. It is possible to get RSV more than once. Older children and adults get RSV too, but it’s not as dangerous in a bigger body. About 5 days after exposure, the first symptoms appear. Prevention? Good hygiene is always in order: teach your children to wash their hands a lot, use tissue, cover your mouth when you cough, (wash your hands again!) and so on. Ask that anyone who handles your baby wash their hands first. And if a cold is apparent in a visitor or sibling, keep them away from your infant! What can you do? If you begin to suspect that your child’s cold is RSV, watch carefully for the following signs: Monitor the child’s breathing. Watch for a rapid breathing rate. Other clues: inability to nurse or drink from a bottle, nostrils pinching inward or flaring, a “blue” look to the skin and paleness. If these appear, call your child’s physician. Give lots of clear, high-calorie fluids. Make sure the child stays in bed and rests. Give a non-aspirin medication, such as Tylenol, for fever and discomfort. And, of course, be patient and encouraging to the child. Hold and cuddle your infants and spend lots of time with your toddlers, too. It’s scary when you can’t breathe easily!Robert K. Dowse, M.D., FAAP is the owner and one of the board certified pediatricians at Premier Pediatrics. Dr. Dowse has a total of 17 years experience in pediatrics.Currently, Dr. Dowse is the Director of Valley View Medical Center for the Level II Nursery, a physician representative of Iron County School District and a physician representative for Iron County Head Start Program. He is also a member of the Utah Medical Association and a fellow of American Academy of Pediatrics.Premier Pediatrics is located at 1251 N. Northfield Rd. #301 in Cedar City, Utah. They can be contacted at 865-7227 or www.premierpediatrics.net.
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