Friday, October 7, 2016

October: RSV Awareness Month

This post was sponsored by AstraZeneca as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I consider myself to be a pretty experienced, seasoned parent. I have navigated through different illnesses in the 11 years I’ve been a mom and if I haven’t seen it, surely my mom has, so between her and I, I’ve always felt pretty confident in taking care of my children. Fast forward until March 2016 when my almost one year old daughter, Penelope, got sick with what I thought was a common cold. I treated it as such but over the course of a week she progressively got worse and worse. Finally one day when I got her up for the morning and she looked like she was struggling to breathe, I knew I had to act and act quickly. 

Penelope, resting in the emergency room

Once in the emergency room we learned that she actually had RSV. I hadn’t ever experienced RSV and only remember seeing a pamphlet about it briefly in the waiting room of our doctor’s office. But here I was, dealing with this first hand in my daughter. We were lucky because the doctor told us that RSV is scary and can quickly turn into a life and death situation because babies lungs are so fragile.

October is National RSV Awareness month and it’s important that all parents recognize the signs of RSV, know when to bring their child in, and how to prevent the illness from happening. Almost all children under the age of two will contract RSV but the severity will vary. RSV is a common seasonal virus that peaks between November and March, and usually causes mild to moderate cold like symptoms, but can quickly escalate and lead to hospitalization, especially in infants who may be at a higher risk. I also didn’t know how contagious RSV was, the child will likely recover in a week or two, but can spread the virus for a few weeks even after recovery, which is why prevention is key. 

Some signs to watch for are your obvious cold symptoms coughing and/or wheezing as well as a fever. Some infants (including Penelope) had signs of gasping for breath, and her chest looked like it was caving in when she would breathe and her nostrils expanded more than what I considered usual. And as a parent, you can tell when things don’t’ seem quite right so trust your gut and go in. While there is no magic cure for RSV, there are things you can do that your doctor will discuss with you.

Since Penelope recovered, and now that we have two month old Lucy, I’ve become hyper vigilante about hand washing (a good practice to reinforce with older children anyways), we wash toys and surfaces with disinfectant frequently, and we limit our contact with crowds, especially now that we’re into cold season again and the back to school germs are making the rounds. We aren’t smokers anyways, but if you are consider keeping second hand smoke away from your child. Their lungs are so sensitive and it can lead to future health problems as well. Having been through this once, I can tell you it’s terrifying to watch your child struggle to breath. Please visit the RSV Protection website to learn more about RSV and what you can do to protect your child this season. 

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