RSV, short for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a very frustrating illness, particularly in children younger than 2 years old. Because it is viral, there is no cure for RSV. Steroids and antibiotics do not help, and it has to be treated with methods such as nasal suctioning, increased fluids, and acetaminophen.
According to the CDC almost everyone will have had RSV by the time they are 2 years old. Out of the 2.1 million children under 5 years old diagnosed with RSV, around 60,000 are hospitalized. This is 60,000 too many, but it is important to remember that while RSV can be very scary, it is a virus, and viruses must run their course.
RSV is one of the cold viruses seen every year with a season extending from about October through March. Unfortunately, this year we are seeing a summer spike in RSV cases. Patients may have fever accompanied with runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough. Wheezing often develops with RSV, however; it is more common in children less than 2 years of age.
If you believe your child has RSV, the following treatments are available:
- Nasal Suctioning – this is one of the most effective strategies to manage RSV symptoms. The most effective way to do this is to use a bulb suction device or a Nose Frieda. It is also helpful to administer nasal saline (drops or spray) into the child’s nose prior to suctioning.
- Fluids – sometimes infants with RSV have difficulty feeding due to the nasal congestion. Nasal suctioning before feeds can help the infant breastfeed/bottle feed more effectively.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen – these can be used as needed for fever or discomfort. Ibuprofen should only be used in children aged 6 months and older.
It is important to watch for signs of distress in children viral upper respiratory infections including, but not limited to, RSV. These signs include faster breathing than usual, difficulty breathing (retractions-pulling in at/under ribcage or at neck while breathing, nasal flaring while breathing, grunting), or difficulty feeding with decreased urine output (less than one wet diaper every 6-8 hours). If your child is experiencing any of these please have your child evaluated with the pediatrician or at a pediatric urgent care/ER immediately.
At Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care, we do not usually test for RSV. Why? Because whether the test is positive or negative, the treatment remains the same. Testing for RSV is available at Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care, however it is performed based on the health care provider’s discretion. The American Academy of Pediatrics published recommendations for testing your child for RSV. They do not recommend routine testing for RSV in children older than six weeks of age. Babies less than six weeks of age are at a higher risk for complications and should be tested if they have significant symptoms because of their risk for apnea.
There is a monthly prophylaxis with palivizumab shot that may be considered for children at high risk for RSV, but this should be left up to the discretion of the primary care physician.
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours and see walk-in patients or through an online check-in system. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.