How to Know if a Baby has RSV and When to Go to the ER

RSV is making its way across North Texas again. The highly contagious virus is responsible for many respiratory infections in infants and children, including the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, croup and bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis is the leading cause of hospitalizations in infants under 12 months old.


How to tell if it’s RSV.

According to the CDC, RSV symptoms typically appear in stages and not all at once. RSV symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Most children will have had RSV by the time they turn two. Typically, RSV infections clear up on their own after a week or two. To relieve mild symptoms, you can give your baby over-the-counter pain and fever medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Ask your pediatrician about non-prescription cold medicines, since some medications are not recommended for children.

When to go to the ER for RSV.

If what you thought was a harmless cold turns into something more, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice and treatment. If your baby shows any of these signs, you should head straight to the ER.

  • Difficult, labored, shallow or rapid breathing
  • Skin turning blue (especially lips and fingernails)
  • Dehydration (decrease in wet diapers)

How to prevent RSV.

It makes sense to keep infants away from sick people. Some doctors and hospitals are going so far as to recommend parents keep newborns away from everyone — including family members — for a short period of time. Check with your delivery hospital and/or pediatrician to see what they suggest.

Handwashing is still the best way to prevent the spread of germs, so make sure everyone who holds your new baby washes their hands thoroughly.

Older kids (and adults) should also learn the correct way to cough and sneeze without infecting others.

If you’re not sure whether your baby has RSV or one of its complications, always err on the side of caution and seek medical treatment. When you have an emergency, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or visit Medical City Virtual Care for non-emergency medical treatment from your computer or smartphone.



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