Sara Largen, MD FAAP
Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Pediatrics
Many of us have been masking and washing our hands more diligently. As our communities have become more relaxed, we have been seeing more and more cases of a virus known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV for short. This virus is notorious to occur in the late fall to early spring months. However this year, we have been seeing this virus much past its normal schedule.
For adults, RSV may seem like a bad cold, but to infants RSV can often result in visits to the pediatrician, emergency room, and even hospitalization. RSV is one of many viruses which can cause a condition known as bronchiolitis. With bronchiolitis, a child gets a virus which causes swelling and an increase in mucus in our airways. For our infants, who already have smaller airways, this can mean difficulty breathing through their nose and eventually dehydration due to difficulty latching to the breast or bottle. In some cases, the congestion can be so severe that the infant can have a hard time catching their breath and need oxygen to help them breathe. Other symptoms of RSV may include a fever or a very wet sounding cough, which can turn into coughing fits. Occasionally, those coughing fits can cause your child to gag and potentially vomit.
While this virus can be very scary, it is easy to prevent. By staying home when you or a loved one is ill and washing your hands regularly, you can keep yourself and your children healthy. If you think your child has RSV or bronchiolitis, it is important to keep your child hydrated, monitor for fever or shortness of breath and to contact your child’s doctor, who can test for RSV and provide you with recommendations to keep your child safe at home.
If you or your child needs care, find a doctor near you or get online urgent care 24/7 in all 50 states with Ascension Online Care. If the health situation is serious or life-threatening, go to the nearest ER or call 911.
For more information on RSV, please also visit: cdc.gov/rsv.