RSV and Flu are Back with a Vengeance: The Top Ten Things to Know About the Upcoming Flu Season
Updated: Feb 18
Written by guest: Dr. Koel Guha
MD, Board Certified Pediatrician
Now that we are no longer quarantining and life is somewhat back to "normal", common viruses that have always been around are re-circulating again. RSV and flu are the two that are hitting infants and young children particularly hard due to their relatively naive immune systems. Below are some key things to know about these viruses and when to seek medical attention.
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
1. RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. When adults or older kids contract it, they end up with a bad cold. However, when kids under the age of 1-2 years or those with underlying medical conditions like asthma contract it, they can have respiratory difficulty.
2. The typical course for RSV is a fever, runny nose, and congestion for the first couple of days. Day 4-5 of illness is when symptoms peak and children may exhibit wheezing, trouble breathing and poor feeding. You should see your pediatrician immediately if your child has any of these more serious symptoms.
3. Treatment is supportive which means there are no medications to treat RSV - we just support them through the illness. This includes: treating their fever with Tylenol or Motrin, suctioning their nose with saline drops so they can breathe better, and making sure they stay hydrated. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe nebulizers as well, but this may only help certain children who have a family history of asthma. Hospitalized children receive support with oxygen, deep suctioning, and IV fluids.
4. There is no vaccine for RSV unfortunately and you can get it more than once since there are different strains. Premature babies and those under the age of 6 months are particularly vulnerable so please keep this in mind when gathering the family together for the holiday season. Practice good hand hygiene and keep your children home if they have fever or cough/cold symptoms.
5. RSV Season is particularly bad this year and many children have already been infected. Key things to have at home include Children's Tylenol and Motrin, Pedialyte, saline drops, and a suctioning device such as the Nose Frida.
"It can be scary when your child is sick," says Dr. Guha "but hopefully these tips will help you battle the upcoming cough and cold season."
1. Flu season is also expected to be bad this year now that it is back to business as usual. The good news is there is a vaccine that is eligible to all children that are at least 6 months of age. It is highly recommended that you and your child get vaccinated against the flu.
2. Flu symptoms are variable and include the following: high fevers, cough/cold symptoms,
vomiting, diarrhea, headache, sore throat, and body aches. Symptoms can last as long as 5-7 days and children are contagious until they are fever free for 24 hours.
3. There is a medication called Tamiflu that can shorten the duration of symptoms. It is only shown to be effective when started within the first day or two of symptoms. The medication can cause vomiting and abdominal pain so some parents opt out of it since the benefit can be outweighed by the side effects.
4. Treatment for flu is also largely supportive. Treat fevers with Tylenol and/or Motrin. Keep your child hydrated with fluids such as Pedialyte. Most cough and cold medications are not recommended for younger children, but you can always try a teaspoon of honey for children over the age of 1 year.
5. If your child has fever for more than 4 days, trouble breathing, or can not hold down fluids, please see your pediatrician. Your child may need additional testing and treatment.
It can be scary when your child is sick, but hopefully the above information and tips will help you battle the upcoming cough and cold season! Don't hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child.
FEED PLAY REST is pleased to introduce Dr. Koel Guha: a CHOP pediatric hospitalist and the Assistant Medical Director of the Pediatric Inpatient Program at
PENN MEDICINE PRINCETON MEDICAL CENTER.
Dr. Guha has been a practicing pediatrician for over 10 years. She obtained her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and went on to complete her pediatric residency at Children's Memorial Hospital at Northwestern University. She currently works for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a pediatric hospitalist at the Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center. Her favorite part of her job is to be able to not only care for kids, but also help put their parents' minds at ease. "It's never easy when your child is sick and it can be scary for the parents. It is truly an honor to provide both treatment as well as reassurance and comfort to patients and their families". When she is not at the hospital, Dr. Guha can be found chasing after her three littles ones.
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I'm Nupur, a baby consultant, the founder of FEED PLAY REST and your solution to sleepless nights, feeding troubles, questions about play and endless googling! I support families with anything FEED PLAY and REST related and my goal is to see you thriving along the journey of parenthood with your newborn, baby or toddler. Check out our website or book a Free discovery call to learn more about the services we offer. We look forward to supporting you, being a member of YOUR village, and officially welcome you into our FEED PLAY REST family...
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