With cold, flu and RSV season here, the air is getting colder and people are going out coughing and sneezing, how do you keep your baby from getting sick? RSV is a non-issue for most healthy adults or older children, but it can turn deadly for a newer baby. RSV (or Respiratory Syncytial Virus) causes cold-like symptoms and generally goes away after one to two weeks.
The common cold is similar to RSV but caused by a different virus. Colds are annoyances but rarely get any more severe than 2-3 weeks. They still can become serious for a new baby, especially if the baby spent some time in the NICU.
Symptoms of RSV include coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, runny nose and fever.Colds usually don't have a fever, but they do have the rest. With both, your baby will sleep more and be fussier.
The flu is a much more serious condition that can lead to severe complications, in even healthy adults. Below 1, the baby is too young to get the flu shot but there are steps you can take to prevent getting the flu. They have a vaccine they give every year for the flu(for anyone over the age of 6 months), but it's for the strains that were dominant the previous year, so they don't always offer real protection. It can shorten the severity. If you catch the flu early enough, you can take Tamiflu and that will shorten and lessen the severity of the symptoms.
Symptoms of the flu come on fast and strong. Coughing, sneezing, body aches (to the point it will be physically painful to move within just a few hours it can bring tears to your eyes), fever (can spike above 102), chills, headache and abdominal discomfort (vomiting/nausea and diarrhea) are all things that can be anticipated from this illness.
So how can you really protect your baby from getting sick?
Wash your hands as often as you can. If you touch anything in public, wash your hands before you touch the baby. If you touch your face and you're starting to feel like you're coming down with something, wash your hands.
Carry sanitizer with you in case you cannot get to the sink. Make sure you only use sanitizer when you have to, though, because overexposure to hand sanitizer can harm your baby's immune system.
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If you cough or sneeze, don't cover your mouth with your hands unless you have quick access to wash your hands.
Don't go out when you're sick unless you absolutely have to.
Don't take your baby out more than you need to and make sure not to allow anyone sick to hold them.
You don't have to keep baby in a bubble to keep them safe, but taking the extra few minutes to take a few precautions can be the difference between baby ending up in the hospital or getting to join in the seasonal festivities with the rest of the family. As with anything dealing with medical issues, make sure to discuss everything that concerns you with your pediatrician. Even an innocent cold can turn serious in no time and doctors are able to tell the difference between a virus or bacteria.
NEXT: WHAT IS "BABY FEVER"?