Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Gearing Up for RSV Season (7 Ways You Can Help)

It’s RSV season – every preemie parent’s least favorite time of year. But for my family last year, we actually welcomed lock down and isolation! Our 23-weeker, Jax, had just gotten home from the hospital and my husband and I were quickly realizing that we were exhausted. I’m not talking about the typical first-time-parents-with-a-new-baby-exhausted (although there was some of that). I’m talking about the kind of exhausted that comes from living with constant terror, stress, and worry for three months straight. I’m talking the kind of exhausted that comes from wondering each day “will our son make it home?”

And there he was. Home. And on oxygen support. And it felt like we hit a brick wall. So, when it was our duty as Jax’s parents to stay home and snuggle up on our couch to keep his immature lungs from being exposed to germs and sickness – oh yes! We liked that!

I only left the house to take Jax to doctor’s appointments. Some days, I didn’t leave the house at all. And the glorious, comfortable weeks turned into long, lonely months and the months turned into never-ending. And then we were sick of our house and, quite frankly, of each other! And when spring came around and we got the go ahead from Jax’s doctors to begin socializing him with other kids, we jumped for joy! And this summer? We were living large: parties and Early Childhood and Family Education classes and friends and family – and now it’s sinking in that all that has to stop.

We’re really not going to like it!

But as parents of a micropreemie with Chronic Lung Disease and bronchomalacia, we know how important isolation is for keeping him safe and sickness-free.

preemie lungs vs full-term lungs

Image Source: www.rsvprotection.com

Babies who are born early, like Jax, often have lungs that are not fully formed. Many preemies, especially those with Chronic Lung Disease (or Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia), spend years trying to “catch up” and grow new, healthy lung tissue. Because of immature lungs and other conditions, RSV and related illnesses can mean serious trouble and even hospitalization for a preemie.

So, our family has a True HEPA air purifier that removes viruses from the air, and we use cleaning supplies that have built-in antibacterial properties. We are extremely aware and careful and we will definitely be breaking out the giant bottle of hand sanitizer, wearing masks around Jax if we get sick, and be on the look out for sniffly noses.

Will you be spending time with a preemie or child with lung problems this winter? Here are some ways you can help keep them safe.

7 Ways You Can Help Kids with Lung Disease Stay Healthy

  1. Wash your hands! (A lot!)
  2. Wash your hands immediately when you walk in the door. And then wash them again after you use the bathroom, touch garbage, blow your nose, or eat. Wash them again before you touch the child.
  3. Visit www.lung.org to learn about how to prevent RSV.
  4. Get a flu shot and a Pertussis vaccine. For real.
  5. Don’t visit if you or anyone in your family has been sick (especially runny nose, cough, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea) within the past week. (Also, if you’ve been exposed to someone who has been sick within the last week, please do not visit.)
  6. Please plan to remove your shoes when you visit.
  7. Please do not smoke before visiting, or shower and change your clothes prior to visiting. Third-hand smoke is real and babies with lung disease are extremely sensitive to smoke.

So, we’re ready! We will print this list and tape it to our doors. We will send an email with this information to all of our family and friends so they are all on board with prevention in mind. Feel free to do the same! We have a Respiratory Action Plan and we know what to do when Jax gets sick. We’re gearing up for RSV season – BLAH!

Parents, what are some strategies you use to keep your kids healthy during cold and flu season?

Andrea Mullenmeister About Andrea Mullenmeister

Andrea Mullenmeister (MN) is a stay-at-home-mom for a little adventurer. Jaxson decided to meet the family while they were on vacation! After a terrifying helicopter ride, Jax was born at 23 weeks 3 days weighing 1lb 8oz. He suffered from severe ROP, humongous inguinal hernias, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and severe hyspospadias. After 93 days in the NICU, Jax came home. He is a happy and mostly healthy toddler with only minor issues. Andrea volunteers on a parent advisory council for "Jax's" NICU and shares their story to give other parents hope. She writes about the life of her micropreemie at An Early Start. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Comments

  1. tammie carmichael says:

    I have 8 month triplets who were born 33 weeks. I was told in the NICU they would qualify for the second season this year. (they were born in Feb.) The pediatrician says they do not qualify and they are too healthy. Is this possible? They are healthy, we only have feeding and developmental issues, but are their lungs strong enough yet? They were 33 weeks, 4#10oz. 4#12oz. and 3#6oz. they also have 2 older brothers one is in first grade.

    • Tammie – congratulations on your triplets! I’m glad they are doing well. Did they receive the Synagis shots last season? I know there is a list of criteria that is used to determine if a baby is eligible for Synagis. Jax’s pulmonologist shared it with us at our last appointment. Maybe you could ask your pediatrician to go over that list with you and ask him why he made his recommendation. I know that every kid is different. Good luck!

      • tammie carmichael says:

        Andrea,
        Thank you again for this article. My boys did receive the rsv shot during the season they were born in. I was told they qualify for the second season before we brought them home from the NICU. I have called the Pediatrician and the NICU and I have found list of qualifications online. (woa! tons of research) I have finally talked the Pediatrician into at least sending in the paperwork to our insurance!! I understand the guidelines have been changed and made a lot stricter, especially for the second season babies. Thank you so much for your article and feedback.

  2. This is a great post. I am so glad you shared it. It is so important to educate people on RSV. I shared this on my facebook and google+ pages!

  3. Great info, we did all of this last year for our preemie that has reactive airway disease. I would love to know what essential herbs you user for his breathing, and how you use them.

    • Hi Raszuana – I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond to you, but I just saw your comment now. We use DoTerra Essential Oils with our son. They have a blend of oils called Breathe that we use. We diffuse it in his room at night and it seems to help him breathe a bit easier. I’m learning about other essential oils and how they might be able to help!

  4. Silas is adorable! I hope the article can help your family!

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