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RSV: When It’s More Than Just a Cold

Every year about this time both our Mesa pediatric urgent care and our Gilbert pediatric urgent care get questions from concerned parents about RSV. So what is RSV and how can you prevent your child from getting it?

Like the common cold, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is highly contagious and most often occurs in fall and winter. It can look and sound like a cold too, but RSV can become something more. What’s the difference? What should you do about it?  And when should take your child to a pediatrician?

What’s the Difference?

In healthy children, RSV may only produce the symptoms of the common cold. Wheezing and grunting with each breath or fast breathing may also occur. But if a premature infant, a young infant, or a child with a health condition that affects the lungs, heart, or immune system comes down with RSV, then the impact can be much greater. Those at high risk could develop bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Preventing the Spread

Like the common cold, RSV is highly contagious – it can spread directly from person to person, or indirectly when someone touches any object infected with the virus, like toys, countertops, doorknobs, etc. The best defense against RSV is to teach and encourage good hand washing habits to your children. This is the most effective way to avoid infections. Also, try to steer clear of anyone who has obvious signs or symptoms of a cold as much as you can.

RSV spreads quickly too, especially at shopping malls, child care centers, and schools. And often times, younger children become infected when an older child brings the virus home. If one child comes down with the virus, it’s best to separate the child who’s sick to keep the symptoms and disease from spreading.

Seeing the Pediatrician

If your child is otherwise healthy, there is really no need for a formal RSV diagnosis. The virus will generally run its course without specific medical treatment. If your child is at higher risk as a premature infant or because of a medical condition, then a doctor can diagnose and help with treatment.

Because RSV is a virus, and not a bacterial infection, it cannot be treated with antibiotics and there is no vaccine available yet. So what can you, as a parent do, if you have a child suffering with RSV?  Make sure you child stays hydrated by giving them plenty of fluids, use a cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist, blow little noses frequently or use a nasal aspirator, give non-aspirin pain reliever, and keep an eye on the symptoms for signs of greater inflammation that can prevent a trip to the hospital.

If your child starts having great difficulty breathing, excessive wheezing, gray or blue skin color, high fever, thick nasal discharge, or a worsening cough then your child might need treatment and you should see your pediatrician right away.

Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care and Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care

If you still have questions, or concerns about RSV, please don’t hesitate – visit one of our offices today.  Rest assured that AllKids Urgent Care is here to help guide you every step of the way with a caring and knowledgeable pediatric staff. Both our Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care and our Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care are open every day, from noon to 10 p.m. No appointment is necessary, just stop in and start your child on the road back to health.

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