Recognize the Symptoms of Children’s Croup and RSV Infections

By:  Debby Hoffer

A Mother’s Dream Turns into a Nightmare

You are sound asleep having a relaxing dream where you are on the beach, sipping one of those exotic drinks with a colorful little umbrella. Slowly penetrating your consciousness is a stressful sound that begins to tickle your ear. Soon you find yourself running for the nursery as you hear a gasping, wheezing sound coming from your sweet little baby. What seemed to be a little cold is actually Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and it is a scary condition that is responsible for up to 125,000 newborn and infant hospitalizations per year.

Track Your Child’S RSV Infection

Information is power. Knowing how RSV functions will help you track the progression and seriousness of the infection. This concise and effective advice is taken from several different medical references. Croup can be caused by several different viruses including RSV. RSV can enter the body through the nose, eyes, or mouth. It grows rapidly on the cells of the body, infecting the upper respiratory system causing inflammation. The viruses that cause croup, including RSV, are more prevalent during the winter and early spring. To know which virus is causing a child’s infection, a medical professional can conduct a nasal swab taking a sample of the child’s mucus for testing.

Mild RSV or croup symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, fever, hoarseness, irritability, decrease in appetite and a profound bark like cough that sounds like a seal or barking dog. RSV can replicate itself at an alarming rate, spreading through the nose and throat or the upper respiratory tract. This spreading causes constricting inflammation that can progress to a more serious level infecting the lungs or lower respiratory tract and causing bronchiolitis or inflammation of the lung passages.

As the infection advances, a child can develop more serious symptoms including a condition called stridor which is fast and irregular breathing. In severe cases a child will develop stridor accompanied by a wheezing or gasping sound. More signs of difficult breathing include a child’s stomach pulling in between the ribs as a breath is taken. This may be accompanied a pale countenance and bluish discoloration around the mouth indicating a lack of oxygen. At the onset of any respiratory infection, parents should consult a medical professional to determine the severity of the condition and the child should be closely monitored as the infection progresses.

Is My Child at Risk?

Smaller children are more at risk to develop RSV. Usually premature babies and babies under three months are most susceptible to RSV. Twins, Triplets and other multiple birthing situations also create a risk. Other risk factors include chronic lung disease or asthma, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis and a compromised immune system.

Environmental risk factors that encourage the passing of RSV include daycare settings, older siblings that attend school, birth at onset or during an RSV peak season, crowded or unsanitary living conditions and exposure to tobacco smoke. Most children will develop an RSV infection between the ages of two and three. The severity of that infection can be minimized as parents take preventative measures.
Tracking information on RSV trends
in your area through the CDC.