Respiratory Syncytial Virus, commonly known as RSV, is a respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Annually, over 57,000 children younger than 5 years old in the United States are hospitalized due to RSV infection. The season of RSV occurs in most regions of the United States during the fall, winter and spring. However, there are ways to attempt to help keep children and infants healthy during the season.
Grant Saxton, MD
Laurel Pediatric Clinic
Laurel Pediatric Clinic’s newest pediatrician, Grant Saxton, MD, explains what parents should do to help their children during this season. “RSV is a very common virus that circulates in cold weather months much like influenza. Most children will recover from RSV within a week, but it can be serious especially for infants. In younger infants with prematurity, RSV can be more severe.”
The signs and symptoms of RSV are typically runny nose, congestion, cough and a decrease in appetite. RSV symptoms may not be severe when it starts, however it can develop over time.
“RSV can cause a generic clinical condition called bronchiolitis that causes a lot of mucus in the lower airways that affects the lungs’ ability to oxygenate well with resulting difficulty breathing,” states Dr. Saxton. “This is more likely in younger infants and infants with history of prematurity. For an older child or adult, it will present as an upper respiratory illness similar to a common cold. RSV is notorious because it is the main offending virus that causes bronchiolitis. However hundreds of other respiratory viruses can also cause the same bronchiolitis illness.”
To help prevent RSV and other respiratory viruses, the number one thing a person can do is practice good hand washing hygiene. Dr. Saxton explains, “Children are busy and they touch many things, and share germs with classmates and friends. It is important to be diligent with hand washing for parents and children.”
Other ways to help prevent illness this cold and flu season are:
- Teach your child to cover coughs and sneezes with inside of elbow technique rather than into hand
- Get vaccinated to prevent influenza
- Avoid touching your face
- Limit contact with sick people
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
- Always stay home when you are sick
If your child presents with cold symptoms, there are experienced healthcare professionals available to help. Visits to a healthcare provider for an RSV infection are very common. During the visit, the healthcare provider will evaluate the proper course of treatment for the child. South Central Regional Medical Center offers pediatric care for children at two locations: Ellisville Pediatric Clinic and Laurel Pediatric Clinic. South Central Urgent Care is available for after hours and weekend treatment for children ages 6 months and older.
To schedule an appointment at Ellisville Pediatric Clinic, call 601-477-3550. To schedule an appointment at Laurel Pediatric Clinic, call 601-649-3520. To learn more, visit scrmc.com.