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What’s the difference between Coronavirus and RSV?

*I am not a medical doctor or professional of any kind. I am a mother of 4, who’s middle child almost died at 6 weeks old from RSV. This story is my own personal account, and the medical facts come from the Mayo Clinic.*

October is RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Awareness Month. Every October, I dedicate a significant amount of effort to remind you about the potential dangers of RSV. This year, I feel it is more important than ever to remind parents, particularly new parents, about RSV. I am afraid in the midst of a brutal pandemic, RSV will be looked over and possibly ignored, or even mistaken for COVID19.

Our son, Adam almost lost his life at just 6 weeks old to RSV. He spent several days in the hospital hooked up to ventilators, fluids and endured numerous breathing treatments to get his oxygen levels back to normal. It was the scariest few days of my life, as I watched my tiny baby battle a virus I had never heard of before.

If you’d like to read more about what the journey was like for us, please read this post which appeared on The Today Show, Huffington Post, U.S. News & World Report and many, many more. You can read my original story here! 

So, why am I so passionate about RSV this year in particular? RSV is often confused with a cold or viral influenza, however it is a different virus that can be extremely dangerous for young babies under the age of 2. Did you know that RSV is the #1 cause of U.S. hospitalizations for children under 2 years old?? Let that sink in…

Here are some differences, based off my research between Coronavirus and RSV:

Coronavirus and RSV are two kinds of respiratory illnesses that have some similar symptoms. So far, experts say coronavirus appears to be more dangerous for adults, especially older ones. RSV is riskier for young children, but it can also be serious for older people and those who have other health problems.

Coronavirus vs. RSV

RSV can also affect people of ages, but it’s especially common in infants and young children. By age 2, nearly every child will have been infected. Most cases are mild. But some children are more likely to get seriously ill, including:

• Infants 6 months or younger
• Babies who were born early
• Children under 2 with chronic lung or heart disease
• Children with a weak immune system
• Children who have trouble swallowing

Even though children are more likely to get RSV, some 177,000 older adults are hospitalized for RSV each year in the United States, and 14,000 of them die.

Both Coronavirus and RSV spread the same way: Someone who is infected coughs or sneezes, sending droplets containing the virus into the air. Doctors say you can get sick if the droplets land on you, or if you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then put your fingers in your nose, mouth, or eyes.

Comparing Symptoms

Both COVID-19 and RSV can cause these symptoms:

• Runny nose
• Fever
• Cough

Doctors say children with coronavirus often have mild symptoms. Some have no symptoms at all. Adults with COVID-19 often also notice shortness of breath.

Along with cold-like symptoms, RSV causes:

• Appetite loss
Sneezing
• Trouble breathing (shortness of breath or wheezing) in kids and adults
• Crankiness (in young children)

How to Stay Healthy

Experts recommend the best way to prevent yourself and your children from catching coronavirus or RSV is to stay away from anyone who might be sick.

Here are a few other prevention tips that work well for both illnesses:

• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at a time, especially after you use the bathroom and before you eat. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
• Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and eyes.
• Ask everyone in the house to cough and sneeze into their elbow or a tissue, not their hand.
• Clean and disinfect things that are often touched, like doorknobs, countertops, and toys.
• Don’t let kids share personal items like utensils or cups with anyone.

For young babies, RSV can turn serious quickly, call your doctor if your child:

• Has symptoms like a runny nose, fever, and cough and is less than 6 months old
• Runs a fever of 100.4 F and is under 6 months old, or has a fever over 104 F at any age
• Is wheezing or breathing quickly (see video)
• Doesn’t eat or drink much
• Isn’t as alert or active as usual
• Wets fewer than 1 diaper every 8 hours, which could be a sign of dehydration

 

*Again, I am not a medical professional….please call your doctor if you think your child has been exposed to RSV or Coronavirus.*

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