Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Rachel has had a bad cough for several days and had developed what seemed like a bad cold. I spoke to a nurse at her pediatrician's office and was reassured to just follow the basic infant care steps to manage a cold: elevate the head of her mattress to help with drainage, run a cool mist humidifier in her room to keep her nasal passages moist and flowing, squirt saline in her nose and suck stuff out with a bulb suction, lots of rest and fluids, etc.

We've done all of these things but last night the cold just seemed to be much worse. She had a mild fever early in the day but she didn't seemed bothered by it. However, by dinner time last night, she felt hot and acted lethargic. It really scared me. We were away from the house at the time so I couldn't check her temperature but I wanted her to be seen by a doctor right away. Fortunately our pediatrician's office is open until 9:30 at night (God bless them!) so we rushed over there and she was seen pretty quickly. They checked her out thoroughly. She had a 102 degree fever, no ear infections. Her blood work came back with elevated white blood cells and a test for RSV was positive. Oh no! I've heard such bad things about RSV and how it can be really serious in infants. The doctor assured us that we were catching it early and it didn't seem to be severe enough to need hospitalization.

RSV is a viral disease of the lungs. It is like a regular cold in that it is a virus that is transmitted through hand-to-mouth contact with the germs or by breathing in infected droplets in the air as from someone sneezing or coughing nearby. The symptoms are similar to a cold but can develop life-threatening complications in infants. Rachel's infection is causing wheezing and she often has coughing fits where she has to gasp to catch her breath. Unfortunately there isn't a vaccine to prevent the infection and what upsets me the most is that once a child is infected with RSV it can compromise their respiratory system later in life. They are more likely to have longer and more severe colds and more likely to develop asthma later in life. Poor little girl!

Rachel is now taking an oral steroid medication once a day, Xopenex breating treatments a minimum of 3 times a day but we can do them as needed so she actually gets them about 4-5 times a day, and two of the breathing treatments have Pulmicort medication in them as well (so they take twice as long to complete). Rachel doesn't like the sound of the compressor that runs the treatments and she hates having the mask near her face. I let her hold the nebulizer and check it out before I start the treatment in hopes that it gets her more prepared for it but it always ends up being an unpleasant experience for both of us.







The compressor we have is not very quiet. I bought it in a rush when Nicholas first needed breathing treatments and I just wanted something right away that didn't cost an arm and a leg. It has served us fine for a few years but since it looks like both of my little ones will be getting breathing treatments on a somewhat regular basis, I think it's time to step up to something a little quieter so we can do a treatment in the middle of the night and not wake everyone up and preferably portable so that we can run a treatment when we are away from home if needed. When I bought our current compressor, I never thought to file it through insurance so we just paid for it outright. That really bugs me because we would have had 80% coverage for it. This time around I hope to get it covered through insurance but I'll probably have to convince them about the need for portability since those cost a little bit more. Keep your fingers crossed.

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