06 October 2017

How to Protect Little Lungs from RSV

This post was sponsored as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Ten years ago, David was four-years-old and Caleb was a newborn.  I wanted David to get back into his routine, so he went back to preschool the week after Caleb was born.  Three weeks later, David came home from school with the sniffles.  Kids get the sniffles all the time, so I didn't expect this time to be much different.  David was his usual self, playing, eating, and sleeping normally.  Even with a one month old baby, I didn't think this cold would be a big deal.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

The next day, Caleb's nose started running and he had a little bit of a cough.  The cough concerned me, so I called the pediatrician to make an appointment.  Caleb didn't sleep unless I was holding him, so I sat up all night with him so I could keep him upright, which helped his runny nose and cough.  

When we walked into the pediatrician's office, the receptionist sent us right back to a room where the doctor came in about 30 seconds later with a nebulizer for Caleb.  She then sent us straight to the hospital and told me not to go home to pack clothes first. 

Caleb had RSV.  The first night we were in the hospital, I woke up an alarm and a rush of people entering our small room.  Caleb had stopped breathing for more than 20 seconds.  He had had an apnea.  I am convinced that if we had been home and not in the hospital that this story would have a very different ending.

After three days in the hospital, Caleb came home with an apnea monitor.  He had more apnea episodes at home, so we had the monitor for several months.  

The next year, Caleb was just over a year old.  David came home from kindergarten with the sniffles.  This time, I knew what to look for, so I took him to the doctor as soon as I saw RSV symptoms.  He only had to spend two days in the hospital this time.

What is RSV?

I'm sharing Caleb's RSV story because October is RSV Awareness Month.  Respiratory syncytial virus, RSV, is a highly contagious virus.  Nearly 100 percent of all babies are affected by RSV before the age of two, and it's most common between November and March. 

RSV Symptoms

In most babies, RSV presents as a mild respiratory illness and looks like a cold.  But some babies, especially those born before 35 weeks, it can develop into a severe infection.

They might have:
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • fast or labored breathing
  • gasping for breath
  • blue around the mouth or nails
  • lethargy
  • fever

RSV Prevention

Since RSV is a virus, there's no known treatment.  As a parent, there are things that you can do to protect your baby.

  • Ask everyone to wash their hands when entering your home and before they handle the baby.
  • Wash toys and surfaces frequently.  
  • Keep young children away from those who may be sick.
  • Avoid taking the baby into a large crowd.
  • Ask your child's pediatrician if he or she may be at higher risk for severe RSV.
Watching my four week old infant struggle for every breath completely changed me as a person and as a parent.  It's been 10 years now, and the image of his tiny body lying in that hospital crib is forever etched in my mind.

If you suspect that your baby has RSV, get medical help immediately.  Caleb wasn't at high risk for RSV, but he was hospitalized with it twice before he was two-years-old.
Learn more about RSV and how to protect your baby at the Little Lungs Website.

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