Good, old RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) has returned and is sending children and their parents into doctor’s offices and urgent care centers throughout Maryland. Telltale symptoms include unrelenting cough (particularly aggressive in older children), vomiting that follows the cough, and fever.
It is important to note, RSV is a common respiratory virus, which typically self-resolves without the need for medication. However, some patients are more directly affected, and therefore require special attention. Infants, for example, especially those who are premature or with underlying lung disease, can develop severe symptoms, including persistent cough and vomiting that can lead to apnea – a severe condition causing babies to stop breathing abruptly. Depending on the stage of their illness, and how severely they are affected, additional care – and even a trip to the emergency room – may be warranted.
Another set of patients who could benefit from early recognition and treatment are those who have asthma and atopic predisposition. Because some children present with a persistent cough only, it is important to differentiate between a viral-induced cough that self resolves and “cough variant asthma.”
Cough variant asthma (CVA) is a lesser-known, lower respiratory form of asthma, trademarked by a dry, hacking cough and often mistaken for another noisy nuisance, croup. In fact, frequent bouts of croup typically manifest as one of the symptoms of CVA. Children who suffer from this childhood aggravation tend to develop full-blown asthma later in life.
Coughs that persist for more than 1-2 weeks and/or those accompanied by a fever, phlegm, mucus, or rapid breathing should raise an immediate red flag with parents and prompt a visit to the family physician.
If your child is younger than 2 months, seek care immediately.
While new and revolting viruses rear their ugly heads every winter, there are precautions children and parents, alike, can take to prevent the spread of these illnesses. Simple steps should be taught and practiced, including diligent handwashing, covering mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and avoidance of infected individuals whenever possible.
Immunization for the flu is also strongly recommended by physicians and pediatricians.
Without question, respiratory distress is a serious matter. Parents and guardians of asthmatics should make certain treatment is optimized, and that they are taking their preventative steroids as prescribed. If your child is unable to go four hours between albuterol treatments without incident, seek immediate care.
KinderMender’s four convenient Maryland locations are open daily. Our doctors can help.