If you have a small child that develops cold symptoms, it can be hard as a parent to know whether you should take your child to the doctor. Doctors cannot treat colds in small children; however, there is one illness that many children get that is very serious, yet it resembles a severe cold. This condition is called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
What Is RSV?
RSV is a very common virus with young children, yet it can be very serious in some cases. With RSV, a child will typically have a fever, runny nose, and cough, and it can make most children very irritable and cranky. Additionally, kids with RSV typically do not eat much while they have these symptoms.
RSV is a viral infection that is highly contagious. It spreads through coughing and sneezing, and anyone of any age can get this virus.
How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat RSV?
Some pediatricians will diagnose RSV simply by examining a child and looking at the symptoms he or she has. Other pediatricians may swab the child's nose and test the fluid from the nose. This is the best way to find out for sure if the child has RSV. If the test comes back positive, your doctor may give you instructions about treating it; however, the doctor will not prescribe medication. Because this is a viral infection, medication will not help it go away.
The doctor may recommend giving the child pain medication and plugging in a humidifier at your home. If the child has any problems breathing, the doctor might also recommend using a nebulizer at home with the child.
What Complications Can Arise from It?
Most children are able to get over this virus without any problems, but RSV can lead to lung problems, including pneumonia in some cases. When you visit a pediatrician, he or she will ask if the child is wheezing. Wheezing is always a sign of a problem with fluid in the lungs. If your child begins wheezing at any time, your doctor will want to know. If your child is not wheezing, it means the child's lungs are most likely clean and unaffected by the virus.
It's hard to know whether a young child has a basic cold or a viral condition like RSV, but it's important to find out. If you suspect your child might have RSV, visit a pediatric clinic such as Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP.