As a parent, nothing is scarier than knowing your child is sick. Children are incredibly resilient, once their illness takes a turn for the worse, their status can change very quickly.
“That is why it is important for parents to know about some of the common viral illnesses that can lead to severe complications, and the best treatment options to prevent them,” says McLeod Primary Care Physician Kimberly Jackson, MD. “Two common illnesses that we’re seeing a lot of now are Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) or Influenza (the Flu).”
RESPIRATORY SYNCTIAL VIRUS
RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infection in infants and children, and most children have at least one RSV infection by two years of age.
Symptoms are usually fever, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and cough. It can be spread to others by contact saliva or mucus from the child’s nose or mouth, or from an object the child touched.
Prevention of RSV starts by having your child wash his or her hands with alcohol based sanitizers may lower the risk of spreading the infection. Another good idea for preventing infection is avoiding contact with large crowds during cold and flu season, especially for infants younger than three months of age.
Diagnosis is based on symptoms, but there is a nasal swab test that can verify the infection, if needed.
Treatment for RSV is usually conservative as most cases are mild – drink plenty of fluids and rest. Steroids and antibiotics, because RSV is a virus and not bacterial infection, have not been shown to help with treating RSV. If the child’s symptoms seem prolonged, your doctor can assess whether or not they may have a secondary bacterial infection that could require an antibiotic.
Flu is an illness caused by a respiratory virus.
Symptoms are usually a few days of sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. Initially, it may be difficult to distinguish the flu from a common cold. Eventually a person usually feels more “miserable” and experiences muscle aches, headache, and a higher fever. Some may even have stomach issues like nausea and diarrhea.
Treatment of the flu is generally common sense: good hydration and plenty of rest. If a fever develops, or if muscle aches are particularly bad, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be recommended. Please remember that aspirin should never be given to a child who may have the flu due to an increased risk of developing a serious condition called Reyes syndrome.
The best prevention for the flu is to get a vaccination, commonly called the “flu shot.” The flu season is typically fall to spring, so the earlier you can get the shot, the better. Only the injection vaccine into the muscle is being recommended this year since the nasal mist type appears to be less effective. The most common side effects seen with the vaccine are fever, redness, soreness or swelling at the injection site, but always discuss with a physician whether you or your child may have allergies or other conditions that may prohibit your receiving the vaccine
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for the 2017-18 flu season are:
Armed with this information, and with a physician ally on your side, we can all be prepared to deal with these illnesses, and maybe not be so afraid of things that go “cough in the night!”