How Do I Know if My Child Has RSV?

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Many people are surprised to learn that, even well into January and February, we are still in the midst of peak RSV season. With the added presence of COVID-19, the flu, the common cold, and other seasonal viruses, it can be difficult to understand which virus is responsible for your child’s illness and what to do when they start showing symptoms.

At Health Services of North Texas, our caring team of providers offers comprehensive testing for a wide array of conditions, including RSV, COVID-19, influenza, and others. With early diagnosis, supportive care, and treatment (if available), you can help your child feel better sooner and reduce their chances of a repeat illness. Below, you’ll find useful information on how to tell if your child may have RSV and when their symptoms may warrant a trip to the doctor.

Is RSV the same as a cold?

No. RSV, which stands for respiratory syncytial virus, does share many of the same symptoms as the common cold, but it is highly contagious and can lead to more serious complications. Patients at the highest risk for RSV and related complications include:

  • Infants
  • Young children
  • Elderly people
  • People with underlying respiratory conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems

What are the symptoms of RSV in kids?

Depending on your child’s age, they may not be able to communicate their symptoms accurately, which can make it difficult to understand what virus they may have. Not only that, but the symptoms of RSV can mimic those of a common cold, the flu, and even COVID-19, all of which are also active at this time of year. Certain symptoms may point to the probability of RSV, though it is important to have your child tested to be certain. Some of the most common symptoms of RSV in children include:

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

In infants, RSV often causes irritability, fatigue, persistent crying, and loss of appetite.

When should I take my child to the doctor for RSV?

Most healthy children will get over RSV on their own. In fact, many people never know their child has RSV and simply chalk it up to a winter cold. However, there are some scenarios when children should be seen for potentially serious RSV symptoms, including prolonged fever or dehydration. If your child is showing signs of difficulty breathing, they should be taken to the nearest emergency room or urgent care right away.

Although there is no specific treatment for RSV, our providers in Denton, Plano, and Wylie can address the side effects of RSV, such as dehydration and fever. We can also offer at-home tips for keeping your child comfortable as they recover from RSV. These include:

  • Keeping the air moist with a humidifier
  • Using a gentle saline rinse or spray
  • Administering Tylenol as directed
  • Practicing proper handwashing and hygiene habits

Suspect RSV in your child? Our North Texas providers can help

Even if your child’s suspected RSV symptoms seem mild, our dedicated team of providers is here to help put your mind at ease and give your child relief from their discomfort. If you think your child’s symptoms may be indicative of RSV, COVID-19, or the flu, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at your nearest Health Services of North Texas location in Plano, Denton, or Wylie, TX.

To schedule an appointment with Health Services of North Texas, click here.