Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do You Know The Symptoms of RSV, A Life-Threatening Disease Affecting Babies (Especially Preemies)? #MC #RSVAwareness #PreemieProtection #Sponsored

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Do you know what tomorrow is?  Besides Monday and a new start to the week, as we inch closer towards the holidays, it is also World Prematurity Day.  For the past few years I have been sharing about this national health observance as I have had had family and friends experience both premature births, followed by their children catching RSV as a result of their compromised immune systems.

Back when I was a health educator, I would host monthly information tables based on national health observances like World Prematurity Day or on specific health conditions.  RSV was never a topic that patients and consumers would ask for.  So, even though I had researched and created educational sheets on the topic, it wasn't until my friends started having children that I saw first what a preemie baby looked like and how these little ones are at risk of so many health issues including RSV due to their lungs not being fully developed at the time of delivery.

I am so blessed to have delivered both of my girls at 38 1/2 weeks.  While most doctors like to see you wait and go at 40 weeks or after, there are times that either the baby decides to come early, or you need to be medically induced, which was the case with me.  It seemed like the two times I became pregnant (2010 and 2011), that scopes or scans would show masses where my cancer used to be.  Doctors didn't want to chance these masses being cancerous and wanted to have scans done and follow-up treatment started ASAP.  So, they let me carry my girls until 38 1/2 weeks, so that their immune systems would be fully formed and they would be strong enough and ready to make their entrances into the world.  

Having seen friends deliver preemie babies, one at 28 weeks, was very scary.  My friends had to leave their babies in the hospital for 4-5 months until they were big enough and strong enough to come home.  Earlier this year, another close friend of mine delivered her second daughter, another preemie, at 25 weeks.  Her husband could put his wedding band around the baby's wrist...that was how small their baby was.  When I was finally able to go and visit, I had to look at their daughter, in an incubator, with tons of cords and wires connected to her.  Even if you don't have children, seeing a baby that small and so helpless really pulls at your heartstrings.  I made a point to come home and give a few extra hugs and kisses to my girls, and thanked God that they were healthy.  

It took almost 6 months of waiting for my friend to be able to bring her baby girl home.  When she did bring baby home, her little girl was a little over 4 lbs.  She was a peanut.  I made a point to share information about RSV with my friend, as well as other things to look out for, now that she had her baby girl home.  I know that new parents don't really want to hear about things that their little ones could get, but it is better to be educated about them and know the symptoms, so you are in the know and able to react if and when a health issue arises.

While my girls were carried to term, they both had to have stomach surgery at 8 weeks for pyloric stenosis.  Having gone through it with Savannah, after countless trips to the ER for her vomiting and weight loss, I knew the signs and symptoms, for Bella.  And, when she started to lose weight and vomit, I rushed her to the Children's Hospital and had them do an ultrasound,which detected the same condition that Savannah had, and that needed surgery.  It was a good feeling being educated on pyloric stenosis and saved a lot of time in trying to diagnosis Bella's condition.  

None of my friends or family had experienced pyloric stenosis with their children, so they couldn't educate or point out similar symptoms when my girls started getting sick at 5 weeks old.  But, now I know the symptoms and can educate friends and family if they start seeing similar symptoms in their newborns.  

So, with tomorrow being World Prematurity Day and knowing that RSV is more prevalent during the fall/winter months (usually seen during the flu season, I wanted to take a few moments and share more about RSV, its symptoms and steps you can take as a parent to a new baby (especially a preemie) to help prevent RSV. 

 RSV is a virus that infects the lungs

  • "RSV or respiratory syncytial [sin-sish-uhl] virus is a contagious viral disease that may infect a person's lungs and breathing passages 
  • Most children will catch RSV by the age of 2 years
  • RSV spreads rapidly among children. While most will recover in 1 to 2 weeks, even after recovery, infants and children can continue to spread the virus for 1 to 3 weeks
Most people recover from the disease in a week or two, but in premature infants or those with lung or heart problems, severe RSV disease can lead to serious lung infection and hospitalization."

With any medical condition or Illness, Prevention is Key!

RSV is a very contagious disease that can spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Unlike other life threatening diseases, RSV doesn't have a treatment regime.  Instead, once you contract RSV, you have to let it run its course, as you fight to keep your immune system strong during the disease's run (about 1-2 weeks).  But, if you are a preemie, who already has a compromised immune system or are fighting to let your organs fully develop after being delivered early, you are more prone to this disease turning life threatening.  While this is not something a parent to a preemie wants to hear, they need to be educated and know the steps to take to help prevent the potential contraction of RSV, especially during the fall/winter months when this disease is more prevalent.  

So, what steps should you take as a parent to help reduce the risk of your child contracting RSV?  Just like most other contagious illnesses and diseases that you hope to prevent, you will want to...

· Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
· Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
· Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
· Never let anyone smoke near your baby
· Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Knowing ways to prevent RSV is one thing.  But, as a new parent or parent to young child or preemie, you will also want to know the symptoms of RSV, so you can act fast and bring your child to see their pediatrician immediately.

The Symptoms of RSV:

Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

· Severe coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
· Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
· High fever (
especially if it is over 100.4°F [rectal] in infants under 3 months of age)and extreme fatigue

I know that I have shared a lot of information above and that you may feel overwhelmed, especially if you are a parent to a preemie and have to leave them behind each day at the hospital, until they are strong enough to come home.  But, like all medical conditions, being a savvy health consumer is key.  If you are educated, you are better able to seek out the necessary care for your child/family. I personally had to seek out 10 doctors and multiple tests and scans before I found an ENT doctor to do a biopsy of the mass I found in the back of my mouth.  If it wasn't for my due diligence and persistence, my cancer could have progressed further than stage 2 .  With national health observances like World Prematurity Day, parents can be educated about health conditions that could affect their family, like RSV.

If you find that after reading my blog post that you have questions about RSV as it relates to your child, the best person to direct your questions to is your child's pediatrician.  Don't try to self-diagnose online, as like I said RSV has similar symptoms like those you would find with the flu and other medical conditions.  Here are just a few questions you can ask to get the ball rolling with your child's pediatrician.  It will also show the doctor that you are serious about being your family's health advocate and want to be educated on signs, symptoms, etc. 

Questions to ask a pediatrician about RSV:
  • Is my baby at high risk of developing severe RSV disease?  This is especially important to ask and talk about if you delivered a preemie.
  • What can I do to help prevent severe RSV disease if my baby is at high risk?
  • What are the symptoms of RSV disease?
  • What can I do to help prevent the spread of RSV?

To learn more about RSV, visit And, please join in on the RSV conversation online by visiting Twitter and using the hashtags #protectpreemies and #rsv.

In addition to educating yourself about RSV, please be sure to pass what you have learned and the above links to family and friends, so that they are also aware of this potentially life threatening disease, which is prevalent during the fall/winter months and in preemies.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

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