Respiratory infections are quite common among kids under 5, and those who are exposed to smoke and go to daycare are more at risk to contracting these infections. While most cases might start out as a common cold, there are some that can quickly turn into serious infections, such as pneumonia, RSV, or asthma. So it’s important that you recognize the signs of serious respiratory infections before they get worse and know what to do with your child once you spot those symptoms.

Symptoms

Consult with the pediatrician if your child is showing signs of the common cold, but are also suffering from these factors that might complicate things further:

  • Under three months old
  • Has been diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory disease
  • Suffering from a fever above 100.4 degree Fahrenheit (for those younger than 3 months); above 101 degrees (for those aged 3 to 6 months); or above 102 degrees for those older than 6 months)
  • Recurring cold symptoms every other day or two
  • More than 10 days of cough and cold
  • Difficulty breathing, resulting in blue lips
  • Earache, characterized by the child’s constant tugging at his ear

Emergency Signs

Call 911 and get your child to a doctor once you see these signs:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing, characterized by rapid breathing; nostrils flaring with each inhale/exhale; nails or lips turning blue
  • Dehydration or vomiting, characterized by crying without or with a few tears; dry mouth; discolored urine
  • Reddish eyes; swollen eyes; and a severe headache at the back of the neck or around the eyes

What is RSV?

Most two or three-year-olds have likely contracted RSV at least once in their young life, without much complication. However, this respiratory virus is one of the most dangerous serious respiratory infections because it can be extremely risky for premature babies; who are less than a year old; infants younger than 6 months; kids diagnosed with asthma or other reactive airway disease; patients suffering from heart, lung, or immune system problems; and transplant and cancer patients.

RSV usually plagues the community during winter and early spring. It is considered life-threatening because of how fast it can travel from the nose to the lower respiratory tract and cause damage to the lungs and the tiny bronchial air tubes, causing pneumonia and bronchiolitis, respectively.

It is also dangerous in that it can make kids more prone to suffering from asthma growing up. It could be because RSV wreaks havoc on the lung, triggering asthma, or it could be just an accompanying condition as the kids’ vulnerability to asthma may also make them vulnerable to serious respiratory infections caused by RSV.

Typical RSV symptoms include wheezing; high fever; rapid breathing; barking cough; and blue lips, nails, or skin.

Unfortunately, RSV is incurable. Whatever treatment available only addresses the congestion that patients feel, opening their airways to help them breathe. In serious cases, patients have to get intravenous fluids, get admitted into a hospital, and receive oxygen treatments and nebulizer medications.

Prevention

The RSV virus is a survivor, so much so that they can survive for days while camping out on tabletops or doorknobs and get spread around through human contact. But you can prevent it by washing your hands and your kids’ hands frequently; washing and sanitizing their toys, doorknobs, tabletops, and other common areas; and asking other people to wash their hands first before holding your baby. It would also be best to avoid people with signs of a cold; stay away from tobacco smoke; and stop sharing eating utensils, cups, or food.

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