Thursday, February 28, 2013

Protect Your Child from RSV

Our kids don't live in a bubble. They are active and inquisitive and we have field trips at least once a month, oftentimes more than once. We visit a lot of places that other children visit: museums, libraries, art centers, and more. So I do have to be aware of the risks when it comes time for flu and cold season. 

What is RSV?

I do my best to be aware of germs and viruses, like Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV. It is a common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract.

Younger children are especially vulnerable to this virus. In fact, it seems like our family was always getting sick when my kids attended a local preschool. It was a great preschool and they learned a lot, but they were always catching colds.
And if your child attends a local daycare or preschool, you may be wondering about how you can help protect him or her from the viruses that seem to be lurking.

How is RSV transmitted?

Part of the problem is that RSV can live on surfaces (doorknobs, counter tops, toys, and bedding) for several hours and is often spread through touching, hugging and kissing. There is no cure, which is why prevention is key.  For example, it’s always best to keep a sick child home when possible, to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. During RSV season, parents should always wash their hands and child’s hands and remember to keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean. 

Symptoms of RSV in infants and toddlers

Here are the symptoms to watch for in your baby or toddler:

  • Fever,
  • Runny nose, 
  • Cough,
  • Wheezing,
  • Short, shallow and rapid breathing, and/or
  • Struggling to breathe (chest muscles and skin pull inward with each breath),
  • Unusually tired/lethargy,
  • Difficulty eating, drinking or swallowing,
  • Poor feeding response compared to their normal behavior,
  • Irritability

Ways to prevent RSV

Here are some things I did to prevent the spread of RSV and other viruses while my kids were in preschool and still do today:

• We have a pretty strict rule in our house and the kids know that they always have to wash their hands before eating. Do they forget sometimes? Sure they do. But for the most part they're pretty good about remembering. 

• I try to wash sheets and blankets in hot water to help to kill the virus. This doesn't work well with fitted sheets that can shrink, so sometimes I add a dab of bleach to the wash.

• I also try to remember to wash their favorite toys. Some toys and dolls can't go in the washing machine or get wet, so wiping them down once in a while with antiviral wipes or a wet cloth with a dab of bleach or hydrogen peroxide is worth a shot. But I make sure to air them out and let them dry before giving them back to my kids.

• We love Berry Well. This syrup of ingredients like elderberry and honey has  natural antiviral properties to keep their immune systems strong and viruses at bay. It's not cheap, so I mainly use it during cold and flu season, when we travel, or when my kids start showing signs of illness. Since it has honey, I do not recommend giving it to young children or those with allergies! You can click on the link and read more about it and decide for yourself if this is something you're willing to try.

• I made sure my kids get lots of exercise and don't consume a lot of sugar, both of which helps to keep their immune systems strong.

• We're also careful to wipe down places like door nobs, light switches, toilet handles, telephones, remotes, and other areas that get a lot of "hand traffic" with disinfecting wipes. I don't go overboard, but once a month during cold and flu season works for us, more if someone is sick. 

To learn more about how you can protect your child from RSV and other viruses, check out the RSV Protection website.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and RSV Protection.


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