RSV: When It’s More Than Just A Cold

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is one version of a common cold. For most healthy children and adults, it will only cause a slight cough, watery nasal congestion, and a mild fever. However, with newborns and infants, it can be much more severe and have devastating health consequences.

There’s so much information passed over to you as you become a new parent. So why is RSV a topic that is not talked about more? October is RSV Awareness Month, and we want to shed some light on how you can protect your little ones. We sat down with one of our employees, Katelyn Souphakhot, who, like many, had no idea what RSV was until it impacted her life dramatically. Here’s her story and what she wants parents to know:


The Early Signs of RSV

My son, Rylan, was just shy of 4 months old when he started to come down with what we thought was a harmless bug. We first started seeing the runny nose, the little cough, and just not acting himself. Once the fever hit, we brought him to his pediatrician to be checked out. They performed a full workup, and no major red flags were seen. We were advised to keep doing what we were doing (giving Tylenol, running a humidifier, and using saline drops). Over the next few days, we monitored him very closely.


The Unexpected


After roughly four days of us battling this virus, that had us completely stumped; things just weren’t improving (we found out after that RSV symptoms are typically at their worst on days 3 through 5). He wasn’t taking his bottle, he was extremely lethargic, and we did not realize how hard he was working to breath (as I didn’t know what to look for). We continued to bring him back and forth from urgent care and doctors, but we kept getting the same results; no pneumonia, no bronchitis, no strep, no ear infection. I then received the dreaded phone call while I was at work, that my son was being transported to the hospital because he stopped breathing. Upon reaching the hospital, we watched him go through hourly respiratory treatments for the next 48 hours, and him fighting hard. The doctors, nurses, and staff all were amazing and worked nonstop through the night to help our little guy.



The Diagnosis


Finally, after being in the NICU for what seemed to be forever (really only two days), we were sent down to the pediatrics wing. The respiratory treatments continued, and we watched our peanut finally have his first bottle in over four days. All tests continued to come back negative, which was genuinely stumping us as to what it could have been. Finally, the doctors came in saying he tested positive for RSV, and my husband and I both went at the same time “what is that?” We were then educated about this nasty virus. After a week of being in the hospital, Rylan could finally breathe on his own with no oxygen mask, the fever broke, and he was eating great again. We were finally sent home. And boy, were we grateful.



What Parents Should Know and Look For


The biggest thing I want parents to know is to stay calm and monitor your little one close. We didn’t know what symptoms to look for as new parents. Mild RSV symptoms are similar to a common cold; diagnosing RSV can be challenging. Once RSV has progressed, is when it becomes severe and needs immediate treatment, which is what happened to us.

There are differences between upper respiratory tract infections and lower respiratory tract infections. Upper includes fever, cough, congestion, sneezing, fussiness, and poor feeding. These are all common and can usually be treated with over the counter medicine (Tylenol, saline drops, humidifier) and home treatments. Lower respiratory tract infections can include cold symptoms plus more alarming symptoms. One of them being belly breathing. This was the symptom we missed and did not know to look for as parents. This type of breathing is when you can physically see their belly be pulled in so hard it seems as if it is going up in their chest. Other lower respiratory tract infection symptoms are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Rhythmic grunting during breathing
  • Belly breathing
  • Wheezing

Any signs of those symptoms are when you should contact your pediatrician right away.

The good news is there are many things you can do to protect your little one.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Keep your hands off your face
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Do not kiss the baby directly on the face
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Stay home when you are sick

How Can Lamprey Health Care Help You Through This Cold & Flu Season?

RSV can be very scary but also can be avoided. Take the precautions, especially during this time in the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage folks to get their flu shot as preventative measures. We’re now offering FREE adult drive-up flu vaccines to make things easily accessible to you. We’re also doing Community Clinics throughout the area. A full listing of these dates, times, and locations can be found on our website. Make sure your child(ren) are up to date with their vaccinations as well. Always call your pediatrician with any concerns or signs of RSV right away. Speaking of pediatricians! We are excited to announce our newest team member, Dr. John Anderson, Pediatrician, will be joining our Newmarket and Nashua sites starting October 4th. Call our office to make your appointment today.