Local pediatrician warns parents of dangers of lung infections in babies

Because its symptoms are so similar to other viruses, RSV is considered the most common illness that a lot of parents aren't aware of

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BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the cold and flu season continues, parents should also be on the lookout for another viral infection — respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Coughing, sneezing, a fever and runny noses all are signs you could be getting sick. But, these same symptoms in babies and young children could lead to something more serious than a cold or the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies RSV as a highly contagious lung infection that causes respiratory tract infections. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 years old in the United States.

Dr. LeRoy Eberly of Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman treats a lot of babies and children each year with RSV.

He said in older kids, it will be more like a severe cold, but for the younger ones, they could end up in the hospital.

“If you’re a very young child under a year, especially under six months or born prematurely, or if you have asthma, then certainly it can cause a more severe lung infection that’s called bronchiolitis,” Dr. Eberly said.

But, to help prevent the spread of RSV, Dr. Eberly says there’s one very simple yet very important thing you can do — wash your hands.

“If you have older children who are sick and you have a newborn at home, keep them as separate as possible. But certainly between caring for the older children and going to the newborn — really good handwashing,” he said.

The CDC says there is not a specific treatment plan for RSV infections yet, but researchers are working to develop antivirals.

The best thing you can do is monitor it and drink plenty of fluids.

If it does become more serious, your child may experience trouble breathing, thick nasal discharge or a worsening cough.

At that point, Dr. Eberly says to see a doctor immediately.

Visit the Akron Children’s Hospital website to learn more about RSV.

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