The Thing About RSV
- March 18, 2019
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 two years old. Out of the 2.1 million children under five 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. Children 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 two years of age. There is no cure for the infection, but there are medications that may help with some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, the younger the child, the less effective and safe the medication may be. In babies, sometimes nasal saline and suctioning is the only effective treatment.
If you believe your child has RSV, the following treatments are available:
- Nasal Suctioning
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
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. However, if the test is positive, these infants need nasal saline with suctioning and close observation. If they develop poor feeding, difficulty breathing, or apnea, they should be taken to the hospital. Babies at highest risk are less than 6 weeks of age.
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. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with recommendations for testing your child for RSV. They do not recommend routine testing for RSV in children older than 6 weeks of age. 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 sees children from the ages of 0-21 years old on a walk-in basis. With 12 locations in Texas, Little Spurs is open seven days a week and is accredited by the Urgent Care Association.