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6 Things New Parents Should Know About RSV in Young Children

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One possible reason for that? Because so many people were wearing face masks, avoiding crowded gatherings, and generally being conscious of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it may have had the additional benefit of protecting younger kids from getting RSV, too.

3. RSV is the leading cause of pneumonia in babies.

While many babies and children who get RSV will recover and be just fine, the virus can lead to severe infections like bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, per the CDC. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in kids under the age of one.

Here’s why: “RSV affects the cells lining the respiratory tract,” Dr. Reschak says. “This causes inflammation,” which increases mucus secretions that can block healthy airflow. “Young infants have smaller lungs and airways than older children or adults,” he explains. “This makes them extra susceptible to these blockages.”

In severe RSV infections, which can also affect older adults, a person may need to be hospitalized. This may include receiving fluids for dehydration or receiving additional oxygen or being intubated to assist with breathing.

4. RSV usually isn’t serious in older children and younger adults.

RSV can become serious for very young children, older people, or for people with underlying lung conditions, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In general, though, the virus is not typically dangerous for children above the age of six months and adults under the age of 65, but this can really depend on an individual’s health history.

“Usually by the time people are older, their bronchioles (very small branches of air tubes) and lungs are bigger and stronger,” Daniel Ganjian, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. By then, “they also usually have some antibodies to RSV,” he adds, which offer some protection against future infection.

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5. There’s no specific treatment or vaccine for RSV yet.

Because the illness is caused by a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics, Dr. Ganjian points out. Currently, there are no specific medications that target RSV, although some antiviral drugs may help in severe cases. There are also no approved vaccines to prevent it, per the CDC, but researchers are closer than ever to getting one approved for adults.

Again, most RSV infections tend to clear on their own in a week or two. While your child rides out the illness, make sure they are getting enough fluids and continuing to eat as regularly as they can. You can also periodically suction mucus out of their nose—say, with a bulb syringe—to help them breathe a bit better. “Those are the most important things a family can do at home,” Dr. Bracanto says. Any time your child is sick, it’s always a good idea to have them stay home, keep them as comfortable as possible, let them get lots of sleep—and give them lots of extra cuddles, while you’re at it.

Source: Self

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