Parents be aware of respiratory syncytial virus if you have a baby
Many younger children fall ill with a condition called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The RSV virus affects the lungs and associated breathing tubes in the childs chest causing the respiratory condition. The RSV virus tends to leave adults and older children with the feeling of a common cold. Symptoms such as headache, cough, sore throat and stuffy or runny nose are all commonplace. They may be unpleasant but generally they are not dangerous. However in young children or babies, especially premature babies the RSV virus can affect the heart, lungs and immune system. When the virus attacks any of these areas further infection can take place leading to other serious illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis which normally take another week or two before recovery. Because RSV is highly infectious it spreads quickly through any place where children group together. This makes nurseries, childcare centers and schools especially liable to have the RSV virus present. The transmission method of the virus is by droplets which are coughed or sneezed from an infected child. If anyone comes into contact with these droplets, either directly from a cough or sneeze or indirectly by touching something that has been contaminated then transmission of the RSV virus can take place. It is for this reason that most children, by the time they reach two years old have been infected with respiratory syncytial virus at least one time. The timing of this virus is similar to flu viruses, winter is the peak time for infections and they normally occur as an epidemic because it passes through the school or day care center and then children take the virus home to younger siblings. In many cases doctors do not try to identify the RSV virus because if the child is healthy the dangers and symptoms match that of the common cold. However if a child is particularly poorly or has other health issues then the doctor may want to identify the virus. The way doctors normally take a sample is by suction of the nasal secretions or by use of a cotton swab. Most doctors only treat the RSV virus when the illness is severe. Most people only feel like they have a heavy cold, however sometimes medication can be prescribed which helps to clear the air ways. With babies the infection can become serious and hospitalization is not uncommon. When children are ill at home the secret is to make them as comfortable as possible and ensure that they keep their fluid intake levels high. Using a vaporizer to keep the air moist can help the child with any breathing problems and if they are too young to blow their nose then help them because the stuffed up nose also hinders the ease of breathing. A nasal aspirator or bulb syringe is very effective at times like these. Because the condition is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not prescribed, they are only useful against bacteria. If any symptoms require drugs it is usually just a non aspirin medication to control the fever and give some pain relief. If you are a parent with a sick child then its wise to call the doctor if your child is displaying the following symptoms: bad cough with mucus, a thick nasal discharge and a high fever. The child can also become dehydrated because liquid intake has dropped because of the illness. If your child is a baby then all the symptoms above should be noted and if the baby is especially inactive or distressed or not taking any liquids then a doctor should be seen. If any blueness appears on the infants skin or breathing becomes rapid or in any way abnormal then the child should see a doctor urgently.