Saturday, December 29, 2007


alternate title: Isabella's First trip to the ER

My poor, sweet, sick baby. No, it's not serious, thank God - just the Cold From Hell. So I thought I would take this as an opportunity to do a little more teaching, nurse-style. We're taught use any opportunity to educate, so here it goes.

RSV: Respiratory Syncytial Virus. "a cold on steroids", Dr. Mylander from the Pediatric Center, at Bella's follow-up appointment.

Symptoms: fever, runny nose, cough, wheezing or other difficulty with breathing (sound like almost every other infant illness?) Bella had sounded like she was catching a cold for a few days, but nothing earth-shattering so I wasn't concerned. However, by Thursday afternoon she sounded like a whistle with each breath. (In medical-speech, we call it expiratory wheezing/stridor.) *Important Note: Respiratory symptoms in kids can progress quickly and become serious, so pay attention to them. No doc will berate you for being concerned about ANY trouble breathing.* It was this principle that led us to the ER (after calling the doc) that evening.

Treatment: Some places are happy to report in typical eschatological fashion that RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization among children under 2. The CDC clarifies that only 0.5%-2% of RSV cases requite hospitalization. About 80% of kids would test positive for having had it at some point, but most are not serious. We spent 4 hours in the ED, but after a nasal-swab (for diagnosis), a chest x-ray (to rule out pneumonia) and a nebulizer treatment (for the wheezing) we were on our way home.

Like most virus, it's a waiting game. Symptoms can last anywhere from 3-15 days. You CANNOT USE ANTIBIOTICS - it is a virus, and therefore unaffected by antibiotics. Use a humidifier in baby's bedroom, suck their noses (my favorite part - yuck!), warm baths, and whatever other tricks for lessening congestion you have up your sleeve. Baby Tylenol isn't a bad thought, either. Because Isabella is still wheezing we are also using a nebulizer at home under a doctor's order.

I also read that like most virus, it can be transmitted on doorknobs, cups, toys, etc. However, it's life span outside the body is only a few hours, and the virus is washed away with simple soap and water. yay!

So, now the obligatory note on proper handwashing!!! PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS, AND the KIDS' HANDS OFTEN! Here's a video on proper handwashing technique. Proper technique is actually very important, and multiple studies have proven over and over again. *tip: you are supposed to scrub with soap for 10-15 seconds. A good way to time this is to either say a Hail Mary or sing "happy birthday." That's a good thing to get your kids into the habit of, also! (My nieces and nephews don't like my hand-washing supervision anymore :) )

Here's a good website for the details on RSV if you are interested in learning more.


Isabella is doing better, I think. Even that night in the ER she was acting fine, the little devil. She was babbling and blowing raspberries, pulling on the doc's stethoscope while he was trying to assess her breathing, and rolling over on the gurney. I wasn't really worried, but as I mentioned before an infant's breathing problems can become very serious very quickly, so I wanted the doc to check it out.


Maria said...

So sorry to hear! ER visits are always so scary. I hope Bella makes a quick recovery.