A runny nose and cough are usually not cause for concern. In babies and young children, it is likely that respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. However, if the condition worsens, medical treatment could be necessary. If you suspect your baby has RSV, here is what you need to know about it so you can determine when it is time to seek help.
What Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, sounds far scarier than it is. The virus is easily spread among people and causes cold-like symptoms. In addition to a runny nose and coughing, your baby might also have a fever, reduced appetite, lethargy, and labored breathing. In most instances, the symptoms clear up in a couple of days. In others, a more serious condition develops.
RSV can sometimes lead to the development of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Both conditions are far more serious and could require that your baby be hospitalized. To avoid this, treatment of RSV is important.
What Can You Do?
If your child is showing the symptoms of RSV, you need to provide supportive care to him or her. Supportive care includes making your child comfortable. For instance, you can clear his or her nasal passages with saline drops and suctioning. If he or she develops a fever, an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen, can help.
You also need to keep your child hydrated. If he or she is refusing water, try giving him or her popsicles and special electrolyte drinks made for babies and young children. If your child has sunken eyes, dry mouth, or little urine output, he or she could be suffering from dehydration.
When Should You Seek Medical Help?
If your child is showing the signs of dehydration, you should seek medical help immediately. If your baby's condition does not improve after a couple of days or if it worsens at any time, he or she needs to be seen by a medical facility, such as an urgent care facility.
He or she can be evaluated and receive medical treatment. Treatment could be as simple as receiving intravenous fluids or oxygen. The doctor might also prescribe antibiotics if there is an underlying bacterial infection.
While your child is recovering from RSV, try to limit the number of people who have interactions with him or her. The virus is easily spread to others. You should also clean and disinfect toys, tables, and other surfaces that your child is near during this period.