RSV Season With EIRMC

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We have partnered with Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center to bring our readers these great tips!

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a highly contagious virus that hospitalizes almost 60,000 children under the age of five every year. It can be extremely dangerous for children 6 months and younger and is the cause of all the social media posts you see warning people to not kiss babies. RSV season usually lasts during the winter months which in East Idaho means November through April.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV peaks from late December to mid-February, meaning that now is the time to be vigilant. 

When not caught early, RSV can lead to the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, or bronchiolitis which can potentially require hospitalization. Most children that are hospitalized are discharged within a few days, but many will require some form of breathing assistance. 

Symptoms and Treatment of RSV

Most children will have had RSV by the time they turn two. While it is similar to a cold, RSV symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing

Children younger than 6 months can also experience irritability, decreased activity, and breathing issues. 

While it can be very scary, thankfully RSV typically clears up after a week or two on its own. To help relieve mild symptoms, you can give your child over-the-counter pain and fever medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Please talk to your pediatrician before using any nonprescription cold medicines since some are not recommended for children. Please also consult your pediatrician for dosing recommendations. 

When Does RSV Require a Visit to the ER?

Head immediately to EIRMC’s emergency room if your baby shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Decrease in wet diapers (dehydration)
  • Difficult, shallow, labored, or rapid breathing
  • High fever
  • Lethargy
  • Skin that turns blue, especially the fingernails and lips
  • Unresponsiveness

If you are unsure about whether or not your baby has RSV, always use caution and seek medical treatment. EIRMC is the only hospital in Idaho Falls with pediatricians on their Medical Staff, and the only hospital with inpatient pediatric care. They have the best professionals to help your child. 

Preventing RSV

RSV can survive on softer surfaces, such as tissues or the hands, for shorter amounts of time than on hard surfaces like tables or cribs. 

Like the common cold, RSV spreads through coughing and sneezing, which is then further spread when you touch an infected surface or come into close contact with an infected person. Kissing a child’s face, touching their face, sticking fingers in their mouth, or using a pacifier that has been left on an infected surface can all spread RSV. 

To reduce the chance of transmission:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often, especially surfaces that are used regularly
  • Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze with your elbow
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Keep hands out of eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Wash your hands often

EIRMC’s Consult-A-Nurse Line

If your baby isn’t feeling well, or you need a little extra advice or support when your doctor is not available, try EIRMC’s free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse phone line at (208) 497-6167. Nurses will be able to listen to your concerns, give expert advice, and let you know if you need to make a trip to EIRMC’s ER for further support. 

RSV can be scary but taking early precautions can help prevent further complications. Be safe this RSV season. When in doubt, contact EIRMC’s Consult-A-Nurse phone line about any of your concerns for yourself or your child. 

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Alex, mother to three rambunctious boys, belongs to the niche made-for-TV-movie market where a city girl marries a country boy. As such, she has developed a new appreciation for dirt biking, camping, hiking, and all other outdoor adventures. She loves anything artistic, but suffers from “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome. You can find her at home working on one of a billion unfinished projects. Having all boys has been a blessing in disguise because her true loves are Harry Potter and Legos. Her sisters jokingly say she is the best “brother” they ever had.

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