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When my youngest daughter – K2 as she’s fondly known on Kandy Apple Mama – was around 3 months old, my daughter K came home with the sniffles. It was only a runny nose, and K often gets a runny nose when her allergies are bad, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. She kissed and cuddled her sister as usual. Two days after K went to her dad’s house, K2’s nose started to run too. But as most mamas know, a 3 month old with a runny nose is a lot different than a 6 year old with a runny nose…
Little K2 couldn’t breathe when she laid down. The runny nose got worse – no matter how many times I tried to suction out mucus with that bulb syringe, it just wouldn’t stop. I was used to her crying all night with colic by then, but this was worse. Her cry was quieter, strained, and she woke up even more often. You could tell something was wrong. Her nose was obviously clogged, which I’m sure was uncomfortable, but not being able to breathe or roll to one side in bed I’m sure made things even worse. My husband James and I had to put her to sleep in her carseat – buckled, propped up, at the foot of our bed. It was the only way she would fall asleep. I often watched her breathing, wondering if her head hurt and she couldn’t tell me.
The day her fever hit I knew we needed to go to the doctor. With all her symptoms, I assumed it was a cold… but feared the flu. I had come down with the flu years before – the knock you down sudden onset, body aches, not being able to move or get out of bed, the high fever – everything. Please don’t let it be the flu, I prayed, please don’t let it be the flu.
Visiting the Doctor
Her pediatrician checked her over calmly. She told us she was going to run some tests and would be right back. James and I cuddled K2 in a blanket while we waited. She was normally such a loud baby, our ravenous “chubby bunny” (and now our wild child), but then she was so tired. When her doctor came back, she confirmed K2 had something I’d never heard of before – RSV.
Wait – what? RSV? I thought she just had a cold or something. What’s RSV? Is my baby going to be okay? What do we need to do? Is this serious??
I wish I had known the answers to these questions before my 3 month old daughter contracted the RSV virus. I wish I had known the signs, and how to prevent it. Watching my tiny premature baby suffer through it was painful, to say the least. Which is why I find it so so important to share this information with other mothers, especially ones with tiny babes at home.
October is RSV Awareness Month, and is a time to help educate all parents on the signs, symptoms, dangers, and definition of Respiratory Syncytial Virus – hopefully before your child comes down with it, too.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is RSV?
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common, highly contagious, seasonal virus that occurs in epidemics from November through March each year. It affects nearly 100% of infants and children by 2 years old, but can be dangerous for some. Although it is common, much like a head cold, RSV often leads to mild respiratory infections in infants, but can lead to particularly serious infections in premature babies born earlier than 35 weeks gestation.
According to the Little Lungs website, RSV is 2x more likely to cause hospitalization in premature babies. Serious infections have caused asthma and wheezing later in life.
What are the signs and symptoms?
During RSV, cold, and flu season, be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Coughing or wheezing that doesn’t stop.
- Fast or troubled breathing.
- Gasping for breath.
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails.
- Unusual lethargy or tiredness.
- A fever, particularly if it’s greater than 100.4 degrees F in babies 3 months or younger.
If your child develops one or more of these symptoms, contact your family’s pediatrician.
How do I prevent my children from getting it?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the virus, so prevention is key. And because RSV is so highly contagious, it’s increasingly important to be mindful of germs around winter months and RSV season. Our pediatrician told us to make sure everyone is washing their hands – especially before handling baby, covering their mouth when they cough or nose when they sneeze. If someone may be sick – even if it’s just a runny nose – don’t let them kiss baby. Keep toys and surfaces clean and washed to reduce germ exposure.
Know the signs and symptoms of RSV and take these precautions to prevent your young ones from coming down with it this season.
K2 is happy and healthy now, but I still wish I had known the dangers of RSV before she contracted it. Maybe I could have prevented it had I educated myself beforehand. Watching my 3 month old daughter struggle to breathe was heartbreaking, and I wouldn’t wish it on any mama. If you’re wondering if your child is more susceptible to RSV this season, talk to your child’s pediatrician about it. Educate yourself, and spread the word!
Has your little one dealt with RSV before? Share your story in the comments.
PS: Dealing with colic? We did, too.