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Medical professionals debate when to seek medical attention for RSV

CHICAGO — RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common seasonal illness that often causes parents to panic.

Doctors say many symptoms can be treated at home safely and effectively. But it is very important to know when to seek medical help.

“It’s definitely unprecedented, which is the general word for what we’re seeing right now,” said respiratory therapist Rush Ann Geistkemper.

There are parents bring their sick children to Rush University Medical Center’s emergency department.

“We see kids come in and out quite a bit,” Geistkemper said. “We treat them as quickly and as best as we can in emergency rooms and hopefully prevent readmissions.”

Geistkemper uses a mannequin to teach RSV symptoms.

“So very common things to start with would be your fever and shortness of breath,” Geistkemper said.

Over-the-counter medications like Motrin or Tylenol help, as does a simple suction tool.

“Another sign or symptom could be increased congestion, so they’re getting a lot of creeps,” Geistkemper said.

But there are more serious symptoms to watch out for in three key areas.

“You can see them work a little harder in the neck area, start to work a little more actively in the rib area, those muscles start to work, and then you can even see belly breathing,” she said.

All the baby’s signs compensate for how difficult it is for him to breathe naturally.

“These are some signs that you’re starting to worry and you should see your doctor and see if they need further help,” Geistkemper said.

There are other red flags, such as lethargy and changes in skin tone.

“If you saw a change in your baby’s skin color that was just different, that would be considered a medical emergency,” Geistkemper said. “It can be caused by a lack of oxygen, which can be related to how hard they’re working to breathe and what they’re trying to fight, and it can change the skin tone all over the body.”

Rush Children’s Hospital Dr. Laura Meltzer said: unlike the common cold, RSV symptoms worsen over several days.

“While the common cold can last two or three days, with RSV, the symptoms actually get worse on the third, fourth or fifth day, which definitely makes parents say, ‘Is there something else going on, is there anything else I should do?’ » ” said Meltzer. “That’s why I think if the symptoms are mild, a call to the pediatrician would be helpful, but if any of these things, breathing patterns, alertness, hydration issues, you should call the emergency room. help”.

Hydration is critical. If you notice that your child has not had wet diapers or urine for approximately 8 hours, contact your pediatrician to schedule a virtual visit if possible. And trust your intuition. You know your child best.


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