Pharmacist Blog: A Bad Respiratory Syncytial Virus Season

It feels like an eternity ago that I was at my younger son’s two-and-a-half-year pediatrician visit. I was informed about the recent uptick in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections. In reality, that was two weeks ago, on October 19, 2023. Parents are told that most children have an RSV infection before they are two years old and the symptoms resemble a common cold; however, I’m here to tell you that this is not what I have experienced over the last two weeks.

Be Aware of RSV Symptoms

Last Monday morning, my four-year-old woke up with a slight cough and some nasal congestion. He didn’t have a fever, so I brought him to preschool where I heard some other children coughing while lined up waiting to go into the building. The following day, my son was still coughing, congested, and without a fever, so again, I brought him to school. This time, over half of his class was missing. The next day, I kept my son home from school as his coughing had worsened and he looked exhausted. By Saturday, he had a temperature of 102, was coughing up mucous, and was lethargic. I took both boys to urgent care where they were diagnosed with RSV. I was told RSV is all about watching and waiting, monitoring for breathing difficulties, and making sure your child does not get dehydrated due to a lack of appetite. 

As my older son was improving, my younger son was quickly deteriorating. His temperature spiked to 103.1 degrees and would not recede below 100.3 degrees despite alternating Tylenol and Motrin every four hours. His breathing was labored, and his cough was so severe he would turn red and almost vomit with every coughing spell. He would try to play and then just lay his little body on the couch and wheeze. On Tuesday, I took him to his pediatrician, just 11 days since he had been there for his previous check-up where he was alert and happy. She listened to his lungs and was worried about secondary pneumonia. I’ve spent the last two days giving him albuterol via nebulization every four hours to attempt to help his breathing and Motrin to attempt to control his temperature.

RSV Precautions

As a parent of two young children, I’m well versed in runny noses and coughs, but this was far beyond any illness I have experienced with them. RSV is not fun. For young children and elderly adults with asthma or respiratory issues, this virus can easily lead to hospitalization. The key is to stay hydrated, control fever, and watch for breathing difficulties. I would also consider monitoring oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter, as my younger son’s O2 saturation decreased to 92. 

RSV is very prevalent right now in schools and daycares, so if you are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver of a young child, please be aware. Watch for escalating symptoms and get yourself or your child medical attention if experiencing breathing difficulties. We offer the RSV vaccine, Arexvy, here at Oswald’s Pharmacy for anyone 60 years of age or older. We would happily protect you as we trek through these winter months together.