Avoiding Baseball/Softball Injuries

It’s springtime, which means that many young athletes are heading back to their local baseball diamonds for another softball or baseball season. And, while your children may not be thinking about injuries and how to prevent them, it’s a topic that should be on your mind.

Common baseball and softball injuries

Although baseball and softball aren’t contact sports, injuries during games — and practice — can still happen. Some common injuries include:

  • Overuse injuries: These injuries happen gradually, over time and are caused by repeating the same motion, like throwing a ball. Pain tends to be gradual and progressive rather than sudden.
    • Little league shoulder: Also known as proximal humeral epiphysitis or proximal humeral epiphysiolysis, this injury is caused by repetitive forceful overhead motions — including throwing — that stress the growth plate. In severe cases, the stress may lead to a break in the growth plate. Symptoms of little league shoulder include shoulder pain when throwing or reaching overhead. The first step in treatment is to completely rest from throwing to allow the growth plate to heal. You should see a physician to determine how long your child must rest from activity and to plan on how to safely restart throwing.
    • Little league elbow: Also known as medial epicondyle apophysitis, this injury results from repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow due to overuse or weakness of the muscles of the elbow and forearm. Activities that may contribute include throwing, swimming and golf. Symptoms include pain inside the elbow when throwing a ball, swelling and difficulty bending the elbow. The first step in treatment is to stop the activities that led to the pain, such as stopping throwing, swimming or hitting. You should see a physician to determine how long your child should rest from activity, and more importantly, how to restart activity safely to prevent reinjury.
    • Ulnar collateral ligament injuries:These injuries most commonly occur with overuse and wear and tear on the ligaments in the elbow. Ligaments connect two bones together. The UCL ligament connects the humerus in the arm to the ulna in the forearm. Symptoms include sudden elbow pain, stiffness and swelling, clumsiness or weakness in the hand and loss of speed or accuracy of throws. Treatment includes rest, icing and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Acute/traumatic injuries: Bruises, scratches, fractures (broken bones), muscle strains and ligament tears are traumatic injuries that happen suddenly. In baseball and softball, fingers, hands and wrists are the most commonly broken (fractured) bones. These injuries happen from contact with the ball, collision with the bag or another player or while at bat. You should seek medical care if you believe your child has one of these injuries.
  • Eye injuries: Injuies to the eyes typically occur from contact with the ball or bat.
  • Concussions and head injuries: Concussions can result when a player accidentally gets hit in the head by a ball or bat. While more common amongst catchers, concussions are a risk for all players.
  • Dehydration/heat-related illness: As the temperature and intensity of the sun increases in the spring season, so does the risk of heat related illnesses including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To prevent these, athletes should be allowed lots of recovery time, shaded rest areas, water breaks and the ability to stop practice or play when feeling unwell.

What are some common causes of overuse injuries in baseball and softball?

The most common causes of overuse injuries are:

  • Not warming up properly before playing.
  • Not following recommended pitch counts and rest requirements.
  • Not focusing on good form.
  • Not participating in conditioning programs that help build strength and endurance.
  • Not giving the body enough time to rest between workouts.

How can I reduce my child’s risk of getting injured when playing baseball or softball?

There are several things you can do to help your child avoid injury:

  • Sports physical exam:
    • 4 to 6 weeks before the season starts, have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) to make sure your child is ready to safely begin playing.
  • Fitness:
    • A dynamic warm-up before practice or game play that includes cardiovascular activities, plyometric activities, dynamic stretching and low-velocity throws.
    • Cross-training and avoiding sport specialization. Most professional athletes played multiple sports growing up. Young athletes are at high risk of overuse injury with their developing bodies if they only focus on one sport for most of the year.
  • Before/during the game:
    • Adhere to pitch count guidelines and rest requirements.
    • Avoid pitching in multiple games in a row.
    • Hydrate and fuel up before practice and games.
    • Recognize the signs of extreme tiredness (fatigue) and take breaks when necessary.
    • Avoid playing when feeling pain or discomfort.
    • Play with children who are of similar physical size and skill level.
  • Equipment:
    • Make sure your child has the following safety gear and that it fits well and is properly maintained:
      • Protective eyewear
      • Cleats with rubber spikes
      • Knee and shin guards
      • Athletic supporters and cups for boys
      • Helmets with face guards for batting and catching
      • Throat guards, knee pads and chest protectors for catching

How can I treat my child’s softball or baseball injuries?

If your child is injured, it’s important that they are evaluated by a health care professional. To help speed recovery, you can:

  • Protect the injured area such as with a brace or splint, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate (PRICE).
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) to relieve pain.

Keeping Kids Safe Around Cleaning Products

With spring cleaning underway, the American Cleaning Institute and Safe Kids Worldwide have teamed up to remind parents and caregivers to be especially attentive about keeping cleaning products out of the reach and sight of children.

Here are three tips to help parents keep kids safe around liquid laundry packets and other cleaning products:

  • Store household products out of children’s reach and sight. Young kids are often eye-level with items on counters and under kitchen and bathroom sinks, so keep cleaning supplies, laundry packets, hand sanitizers and personal care products where children can’t reach them.
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers and read product labels. Use and store products according to the product label. Kids can get into things quickly, so remember not to leave cleaning products or personal care products unattended while you are using them.
  • Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it visibly at home: 1-800-222-1222. Specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day. They can answer questions and help with poison emergencies.

Once you are done using cleaning products, make sure you carefully dispose of empty cleaning containers. To protect children, pets and garbage handlers, replace caps first, then discard in a sealed recycling bin or garbage container.

Happy Cleaning!

Decreasing Salt in a Child’s Diet

Did you know that most children eat as much salt as adults? This bad habit can lead to health problems, like hypertension, later in life. In fact, many young people are already being diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension. As a parent, it’s your job to take the lead, change your child’s diet and move away from restaurant and processed foods.

Children’s diets should not exceed 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, so parents need to be extra careful about reading labels and choosing the lowest sodium options. It takes the whole family to get involved and move away from processed foods, which are surprisingly high in salt.

Magnesium and potassium, on the other hand, are inversely related to sodium intake, and are protective in blood pressure. A great way to try to decrease the salt – and increase these important nutrients – in your diet is to try to eat natural foods, like fruits and vegetables, which are high in magnesium and potassium.

To paraphrase Michael Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food and eat nothing that wouldn’t rot. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Of course, the challenge is time. Most families are juggling work, school and extra-curricular schedules and it’s difficult to buy fresh foods that take longer to prepare. Changing your diet takes some commitment, and fresh food is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as many people fear. Brown rice, beans, fruits and vegetables bought in bulk, vegetables bought in season and even frozen vegetables are just as good.

Snot Colors and What They Mean

Now that we’re in the thick of cold and flu season, many of us are getting more up close and personal with nasal mucus, or snot, than we’d like. But did you know that snot color can actually tell you a lot about your health?

Mucus plays an important role in your body. The sticky substance is the first line of defense in terms of preventing infections and fending off things like bacteria, viruses and dust that might enter your body through your nose. When there are more germs present, your body makes more mucus to trap them and get them out of your body. Because of this important role, snot can take on different colors depending on how it adapts to what’s going on in your body. That’s why it’s actually a good thing to take a look at what’s in your tissue.

Clear snot

Clear snot is a good thing. It’s considered “normal” or healthy. However, if you’re also experiencing a large amount of nasal discharge, you might have allergies or hay fever.

White snot

If you’re feeling congested or stuffy, you may notice your snot is cloudy and clumpier than usual. White snot is caused when mucus loses water and becomes thick and cloudy. Often, white snot goes hand-in-hand with the common cold. Other symptoms include a sore throat, congestion, coughing or a low-grade fever.

Yellow snot

Yellow snot is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. Your white blood cells are fending off a virus or bacteria and the dead cells give snot a yellow or brownish tint. While yellow snot isn’t something to worry about, you should keep track of when it started to determine how fast your body is healing. If, after 10 days, your snot is still yellow, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Green snot

When your snot is green, it means your body is working really hard to get rid of an infection. More and more white blood cells are being called into action and the waste products from their fight against germs are turning your snot green.

Green snot can also indicate a sinus infection. Other symptoms include congestion and sinus pressure or headaches.

If you’ve been feeling sick for more than 10 days, have green snot along with a headache or fever, it’s probably time to call your healthcare provider.

Reddish/pink snot

Red or pink snot usually comes from blood and indicates your nasal passage is dry or irritated or that you’ve had some sort of nasal trauma. This can happen if you’ve been hit on the nose or if your nose is dried out from cold, dry weather or over-blowing. Try using a nasal spray, a thin layer of petroleum jelly or a humidifier to get rid of dryness. If the red snot is accompanied by excessive nosebleeds or difficulty breathing, you should call your healthcare provider.

Brown/orange snot

Brown or orange snot often follows red/pink snot and is caused by old, dried blood leaving the body. It can also occur if you’ve inhaled a lot of pollution or dirt that discolors your mucus.

Black snot

Black snot generally means you’ve got a fungal infection. While it isn’t common, it is serious, and you should contact your healthcare provider. Black snot also occurs if you’ve inhaled a lot of smoke or dirt/dust.

It’s always a good idea to know what’s going on inside your body. If you notice a change in your mucus that concerns you, or if a color change occurs alongside other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dehydration, pain or symptoms that last more than 10 days, you should contact your doctor. It’s also important to remember that while the color of your mucus can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside your body, the duration of the nasal discharge and how your child is feeling should ultimately determine whether you call your healthcare provider.

Sibling Rivalry versus Sibling Bullying

Its normal for siblings to fight. They bicker over everything from what to watch on television to who gets to sit in the front seat of the car. But when sibling disagreements become abusive, that’s no longer normal behavior, it’s sibling bullying.

What is it bullying versus typical sibling rivalry?

Here are some ways to identify sibling bullying:

  • If the incidents happen on a regular basis
  • If the bullying/teasing is meant to hurt
  • If it makes you as a parent uncomfortable or concerned, it is likely even worse for the target child
  • If the parent notices any negative impact on the child (e.g., changes in mood or behavior, anger/aggression, isolation, decline in grades)

Why should I be concerned? Isn’t this just part of childhood?

It is the rule, rather than the exception, that kids tease their siblings and there is bound to be some conflict. However, regular bullying or teasing, by siblings or by peers, can be associated with serious emotional and mental health difficulties:

  • Home should be a safe space where kids feel free to be themselves and to make mistakes. If they feel like they aren’t safe physically or emotionally, they are likely to experience a high level of stress which can cause a multitude of poor physical and emotional problems.
  • Siblings know each other’s weaknesses. Therefore, they can cause a lot of hurt by picking on their siblings where they are most vulnerable.
  • When kids are picked on in school, parents often step in, even if it is just to remind their child, “that’s not true – you are smart/beautiful, etc.” However, when this is coming from a sibling, parents are less likely to step in. Therefore, a child may think, “if the people who are supposed to love me most believe this, it must be true.” This can be very damaging to self-esteem.

What should parents do?

The good news is, when a child is being bullied at school, parents have no control over the bully. At home, parents have much more control. Here are some ways to help stop bullying at home:

  • Have a rule in the house that does not allow teasing/bullying. Make this applicable for all family members and have established consequences that follow the behavior.
  • Stop the behavior whenever you see it. Don’t let it slide.
  • Check in with school counselors/teachers to make sure your child isn’t bullying others at school as well.
  • If it reaches a point where you feel you cannot help the situation, consider talking to a professional.

Is Your Child Drinking Too Much Milk?

While it is true that milk can be a great part of a healthy diet for children, too much milk can lead to health problems such as iron deficiency anemia and protein loss from the gut.

What is iron deficiency anemia?

Iron is an important mineral we get from our diet that our bodies use to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps deliver oxygen to different tissues in our bodies. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when you have low levels of hemoglobin in your body due to not enough iron.

While breast milk or formula is a good source of iron for babies up until six months of age, after six months, milk alone does not provide enough iron, which is why solid foods should be introduced to children.

Common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include pale skin, lack of energy and shortness of breath after activity.

What is protein loss from the gut?

Protein loss from the gut, or protein losing enteropathy, occurs when a child drinks too much milk, causing low levels of protein in the blood. This can cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissue which leads to swelling of the legs, back and face. It can also put you at risk for infections.

Protein loss and swelling can be caused by other disorders so your pediatrician will ask questions about your child’s overall health and symptoms to determine the cause.

Symptoms of protein losing enteropathy include:

  • swelling of the feet, legs and face
  • muscle cramps or weakness
  • extra fluid around the lungs
  • swelling of the abdomen

How can I prevent my child from getting iron deficiency anemia or protein losing enteropathy?

To prevent your child from getting iron deficiency anemia or protein losing enteropathy, make sure they are drinking no more than the recommended daily amount of cow’s milk. For toddlers, the recommended amount is about 250-500 mL, or 1-2 cups per day. Exceeding this amount can lead to problems.

How are iron deficiency anemia and protein losing enteropathy treated?

Iron deficiency and protein loss from the gut due to excess milk intake are treated by reducing the amount of milk a child drinks and increasing the amount iron rich foods in their diet. Often, iron supplements are also recommended.

RSV vs COVID-19

Your child wakes up with a fever and stuffy nose. Is it the flu? Is it COVID-19? Or is it something else, like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)? Unfortunately, right now, all three are possibilities. So how can you figure out what’s causing your child’s illness, and more importantly, what should you do about it?

The short answer is that the cause of your child’s infection might not always be clear. COVID-19, the flu and respiratory viruses such as RSV have similar symptoms. But there are a few differences that can help you determine why your child is sick.

What is the biggest difference between COVID-19, RSV and the flu?

COVID-19 has many similarities to the flu and RSV because they are all contagious respiratory viruses that spread from person to person by droplets traveling through the air. But there are key differences as well:

  • Children with COVID-19 may not have symptoms at all, or may have a gradual onset of fever, congestion, cough and loss of taste and smell that last anywhere between seven to 28 days. Neither RSV nor the flu typically cause a loss of taste or smell, so if your child has these symptoms there’s a good chance they have COVID-19.
  • Older children with RSV usually have minor symptoms similar to a cold. Younger kids and babies with RSV tend to have a slow onset of cold-like symptoms and then a sudden escalation. Symptoms last three to seven days.
  • Most children who have the flu will experience a rapid onset of symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose, and these symptoms will last from five to seven days.

COVID-19 symptoms

People with COVID-19 have reported a range of symptoms, and not everyone infected with the virus will have the same symptoms. Symptoms tend to appear from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste and/or smell
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Loss of taste or smell is unique to COVID-19 — it isn’t seen in any of the other illnesses — but it’s also important to know that may kids with COVID-19 never experience loss of taste or smell, so just because your child doesn’t have this symptom doesn’t mean they don’t have COVID-19.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) symptoms

Infection with RSV is common among young children and usually begins as a mild cold, but can cause severe breathing problems in premature babies, as well as infants and toddlers under the age of two who have chronic lung disease and chronic heart disease. Symptoms of RSV include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unusual behavior such as excessive tiredness or irritability

Flu symptoms

The seasonal flu (influenza) can cause mild to severe illness. The flu usually comes on very suddenly. Your child may feel perfectly fine one day and be very sick the next. Common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

The good news is that flu shots can protect your child from having severe infections, or from even getting infected altogether. And since many symptoms of the flu are shared with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

Can kids get infected with multiple viruses at the same time?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. It’s not uncommon for kids to contract multiple respiratory viruses at once. Younger kids — toddlers and infants — who have multiple viral infections at the same time may have more severe illness than if they had only contracted one virus.

How can I protect my family from the flu, COVID-19 and RSV?

Fortunately, there are safe and effective vaccines for both the flu and COVID-19. Children ages 12 and older can get the COVID vacinne and children ages six months and older can get a flu shot.

There is a vaccine for RSV, but it is only for babies and children that have compromised immune systems. Since the RSV virus travels and lives on surfaces, washing your hands often and keeping infants away from children and adults who are exhibiting common cold symptoms can be extremely helpful. Breastfeeding and avoiding second-hand smoke also show natural benefits to possibly preventing RSV.

What should I do if my child has symptoms that could be COVID-19, the flu or RSV?

If your child develops symptoms, we first want to encourage you to offer them supportive care: allowing them adequate time to rest, keeping them well hydrated, and giving age-appropriate over the counter medicines if needed for comfort.

While symptoms are present, we recommend keeping your child at home and physically separate from those who do not have symptoms. This is particularly important for children who go to daycare, school or are exposed to individuals who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 as quarantining will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Testing your child for COVID-19 is the fastest way to avoid strict quarantining, as recommendations still encourage quarantining for anyone with symptoms for at least if 10 days if they do not have a negative COVID-19 test.

Flu Vaccine

Getting a flu shot might not be at the top of your mind these days, but with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, flu shots are more important than ever. To help you better understand why, we answer some of your questions about the flu, the shot and the relationship between flu and COVID-19.

Why should I get a flu shot this year?

While it has always been important for everyone ages 6 months and up to get the flu shot, it is arguably even more important this year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu and COVID-19 cause similar symptoms and if your child is unlucky enough to catch both at the same time, they could have a worse course of illness as their body tries to fight both. Besides both viruses causing lung issues and breathing problems, in rare cases, both the flu and COVID viruses can cause life-threating, sudden heart attacks.

Another reason for your child to get the flu shot is to help them avoid trips to the doctor’s office. While doctor’s offices are cleaning more and using masks and gloves to keep you and your family safe, it may give you peace of mind to have fewer reasons to make a visit.

Lastly, by having large numbers of people protected against flu from having had the shot, there will be fewer cases of flu in the community. This means there will be fewer demands on the healthcare system which will allow doctors and hospitals to focus their scarce resources on people who are very sick with COVID-19.

Will getting the flu vaccine put my child at greater risk for contracting COVID-19?

No. The flu vaccine will not put your child at greater risk for getting COVID-19, but it also won’t prevent them from getting COVID-19.

Can my child get COVID-19 from the flu vaccine?

No. Your child will not get COVID-19 from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine does not contain coronavirus. It contains inactive influenza virus or proteins from an influenza virus, which means getting a flu vaccine will not cause you or your child to get the flu or test positive for COVID-19 or any coronavirus.

Is it safe for my child to get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

Yes, as long as your child is eligible to get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine, then it is safe to administer them together.

Is the flu shot better than the flu mist?

No. Both versions of the flu vaccine are equally effective at protecting against the influenza virus. However, parents should talk to their pediatrician about which flu vaccine is recommended for their child. Children need to be at least 2 years old to receive the nasal spray vaccine. The flu nasal spray is not recommended for anyone with chronic lung problems like asthma or for anyone with a compromised immune system.

Can my child get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No, a flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are currently made with either flu vaccine viruses that have been killed (inactivated) and are therefore not infectious, or with proteins from a flu vaccine virus. The nasal spray is made with attenuated (weakened) flu viruses and cannot cause the flu. These weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other warm areas.

Reports of illness after flu vaccine are typically due to side effects from the vaccine, or from unrelated viral illnesses that also tend to circulate during the time of year that flu shots are administered. Typical side effects from the flu vaccine include soreness (if given the flu shot), congestion (if given the nasal spray), cough, fever, body aches, headache and fatigue. Serious side effects are rare and less common than the severe complications that occur from the flu itself.

I got the flu vaccine and still got the flu!  Why?

Scientists make predictions about what flu strains will circulate the following year when they prepare the flu vaccine. In most years, these predictions result in a flu vaccine that provides significant protection, but there is still a chance you or your child may contract a strain that is not included in the vaccine.

Back To School Anxiety In Kids

Children have been staying home for a while now due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With schools finally opening up, parents likely have concerns about how their child might handle back-to-school anxiety and homesickness. Below we present some strategies for parents to reduce anxiety and homesickness and help ease the transition from being at home to being back in the classroom.

Strategies for parents to help reduce back-to-school anxiety and homesickness

  1. Practice coming up with a list of things your child would like to share with their teacher and classmates (e.g., unique interests or talents, fun things they did this summer).
    • For kids who feel shyer and more anxious, parents can practice these brief “sharing statements” so their child feels more comfortable talking.
    • Help your child with keeping their sharing time short (since the teachers may need to cut them off if it’s too long), speaking up so others can hear and making eye contact.
  2. If you know any of your child’s classmates, reach out to their parents and schedule a playdate. Getting time with friends or peers before school can ease some worries, help your child practice their rusty social skills and help all the kids feel more excited about return to school.
  3. Consider taking a tour of the school (especially if it is a new school) before the school year begins, if possible. Even driving around the school or taking a short walk or a picnic in school grounds may help kids re-familiarize with the school environment or feel comfortable with their new environment. Some schools may have a virtual tour, videos or pictures on their websites that could be helpful if going to the school physically is not possible.
  4. Tell your kids it’s normal to feel nervous or sad.
    • Ask your kids how they are feeling about return to school (open-ended questions are best, or prompt by saying “sometimes kids feel excited or nervous or happy or worried…sometimes they feel multiple things at the same time”)
    • Let them know it’s normal to feel nervous about going back to school and about doing any new things.
      • Talk about things that have helped them feel braver in the past when they started something new.
    • Children may be worried about getting sick when they go to school as they have been hearing a lot about germs and hygiene.
      • Discuss use of masks, hand hygiene and physical distancing rules and what they can do to keep themselves safe.
      • Practice wearing mask, washing hands (at least 20 seconds, making a “white glove” with the bubbles), and not touching eyes, mouth, etc.
    • Create a “Bravery Chart” in which they can earn stickers or points for managing their anxieties in a healthy way.
  5. Increase excitement about return to school.
    • Talk often about the exciting things to look forward to, like getting to meet kind teachers, finding out who will be in their class and the fun things they will get to learn.
      • Ask your child what things they are looking forward to with return to school.
    • Back-to-school shopping: new school supplies often help kids feel more excited, even though they are nervous about return to school. Get some new school supplies (new pencils, markers and a new pencil kit) to help your child feel excited about starting a new year.
  6. Help your children anticipate the change that comes with going to school. Before school starts, talk to them about the changes that are coming with the return to school. Be sure to discuss routines — schoolwork, learning, recess, lunch, etc. Focus on the positives and fun!
  1. Reassure your child that you are interested in their welfare and know that they might feel homesick. Let your child know that you will check in with them at the end of each day, and that they can share anything with you!
  2. Help your kids get used to being away from home.
    • Practice spending time away from your kids at home. Working/playing in different rooms, having structured small amounts of time on their own, and doing tasks by themselves may help them feel confident about not needing to be always with parents.
    • Spend more time outside the house with the kids – running errands, going on outing, etc. to help them feel comfortable with being away from home.
    • Remind children of the times prior to the pandemic when they were in school without parents and how they handled being scared or missing parents.
    • Talk to teachers about creating a plan for your child to feel comfortable at school if they have separation anxiety – planned video or phone calls to a parent, writing notes or letters to parents or having a special toy they can use for comfort.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus that usually spikes in cases during the winter months. Unfortunately, this summer it’s unexpectedly spreading, especially in the Southern United States. The outbreak has been so concerning that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a health advisory about the spread of RSV in the country.

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Infection with RSV is common among young children and usually begins as a mild cold, but can cause severe breathing problems in premature babies, as well as infants and toddlers under the age of two who have chronic lung disease and chronic heart disease.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.

What are the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus?

Early symptoms of RSV include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite

Because it’s often difficult to distinguish RSV from a common cold, here are some signs to look out for if you suspect your child’s cold may be more serious:

  1. Difficulty breathing: After one or two days, the virus can travel to the lungs, affecting the small airways (called bronchioles) that allow your child to breathe easily. Once the airways are affected you may notice faster breathing, flaring of the nostrils, sinking of the neck and sucking in of the ribs while breathing. These are indicators that your child is having difficulties moving air into and out of the lungs and needs to be seen by a doctor.
  2. Unusual behavior: RSV may cause your child to be more irritable, sleepy or uncomfortable than normal. Another cause for concern may be if your baby is not feeding well.

How is respiratory syncytial virus treated?

Most RSV infections go away on their own in one or two weeks. While there is no specific treatment for RSV, some things you can do to relieve symptoms are:

  1. Manage fever and pain with over the counter fever reducers and pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  2. Keep your child hydrated.Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration.

How do I prevent my child from catching respiratory syncytial virus?

Preventing RSV can be very difficult, especially because it is spread in droplets of fluid from sneezing, coughing or laughing. Since the virus travels and lives on surfaces, washing your hands often and keeping infants away from children and adults who are exhibiting common cold symptoms can be extremely helpful. Breastfeeding and avoiding second-hand smoke also show natural benefits to possibly preventing RSV.