Posts Tagged ‘common cold’

What do you need to know about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Almost all babies get it before the age of 2. Your baby can get RSV at any time of year, but it’s most common from November to April.

Signs and symptoms of RSV

For most healthy children, signs and symptoms of RSV are similar to those of a cold and can last about two weeks. They can include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sluggish or being inactive
  • Wheezing or having trouble breathing

Some babies have a high risk of getting severe RSV. This includes premature babies and babies with lung problems, heart problems and other chronic illnesses. Severe RSV may lead to other serious infections, like:

  • Bronchiolitis, an infection that causes swelling in the smallest air passages in the lungs
  • Pneumonia, an infection in one or both lungs

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

Call your baby’s health care provider right away if your baby:

  • Has a cough that gets worse, or she coughs up yellow, green or gray mucus
  • Has a fever higher than 100.4 F if your baby is younger than 2 months, higher than 101F if your baby is 3 to 6 months old or higher than 103F if your baby is older than 6 months
  • Looks dehydrated. This means your baby doesn’t have enough water in his body. Your baby may be dehydrated if he has fewer tears when crying or sunken eyes or if he urinates less frequently.
  • Isn’t hungry
  • Has a thick nasal discharge
  • Has trouble breathing or her mouth and fingernails look blue

Prevent the spread of RSV

You can help protect your baby from RSV by:

  • Keeping your baby away from people who are sneezing or coughing
  • Making sure everyone who touches your baby has clean hands
  • Keeping your baby away from crowds of people
  • Not letting anyone to smoke near your baby

Babies who are at high risk of severe RSV may get medicine that helps prevent RSV from becoming severe. Your baby may get this medicine called palivizumab during the fall and winter months. The medicine doesn’t cure RSV, and it’s not used to treat children who already have severe RSV or to prevent mild RSV. If your baby is at high risk for severe RSV, talk to her provider about treating your baby with palivizumab.

Treatment for RSV

There is no specific treatment for RSV. If your baby has RSV, you can help relieve symptoms by making sure she gets extra rest and drinks lots of fluids. You can use a rubber suction bulb to help clear mucus from her nose. And use a cool-mist humidifier to help your baby breathe more easily. If your baby has a fever, talk to her provider about using acetaminophen.

For more information about RSV and other health conditions, visit marchofdimes.org

Croup, the barking cough

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

croup1A common childhood illness, croup often starts with mild cold-like symptoms. As the airway swells, the child develops noisy breathing and a cough that sounds like the barking of a seal. Often a child’s symptoms get worse or come on suddenly at night and they can be scary. The symptoms tend to repeat over the next two to three nights, which can be exhausting for everyone.

Croup is an illness that affects the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). Children between 3 months and 3 years of age are most likely to get croup. Their airways are small, and any swelling can make it difficult to breathe. The good news is that most cases of croup, though they need to be monitored closely, are mild and last less than a week.

Croup is caused by viruses that are contagious. The viruses can spread through the air or by touching a contaminated surface, something toddlers do all day long. Less frequently, allergies may cause croup. Your baby can get croup at any time of year, but it is most common between October and March, so it’s time to keep your eyes and ears open for it.

If your little one gets sick, do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to her if she is younger than 2 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and even life-threating side effects.

Steam often helps children with mild cases of croup to breathe easier. I remember those nights when I steamed up the bathroom with hot shower water and sat there with my son or daughter for 15 to 20 minutes. It did seem to help, but if this doesn’t help you, try taking your child outside to breathe cool night air. The cool air helps reduce airway swelling. A cool-water humidifier (vaporizer) in your baby’s room also may help. While your baby has the croup, check on her frequently during the night to make sure the symptoms don’t get worse.

Antibiotics won’t help croup, but call your baby’s health care provider right away if your child develops a barking cough or noisy breathing. Providers sometimes prescribe medications called corticosteroids that reduce swelling in the airways and make breathing easier. Rarely, a child with serious breathing problems may need to be treated with oxygen and medications in the hospital.

Call for emergency medical assistance if your baby:
• Appears to be struggling to get a breath
• Looks blue around the mouth
• Drools and has a lot of trouble swallowing
• Makes louder and louder noises as she inhales (called stridor), especially when resting.