A sad young boy with a red line running from his nose to his lungs

Can RSV Affect Older Children?

Last updated: November 2022

I like to keep up with current events.

I was surprised to see every TV station and social media outlet were running stories about RSV. Every station - day after day.

But the thing that surprised me the most was the footage of babies in the hospital.

The reporters interviewed doctors and then ended each story by saying how dangerous RSV is for babies. That’s enough to scare any parents!

But what they didn’t say (and believe me - I listened) was that kids can also end up in the hospital. Not just babies.

As a mom to three kids with asthma, I know how dangerous any respiratory infection can be.

RSV is no exception.

The main reason I am writing this article is to warn other parents that older kids with asthma and RSV can end up in the hospital.

Kids with RSV in the hospital

My middle son was 5 years old (yep - 5) when he ended up in the emergency room (ER) with breathing problems. The ER doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong with my son and ordered some tests. From what I remember, one was a nasal aspiration test (which is loads of fun for little kids...)

I remember the ER doctor saying that it was very unusual for a child his age, but my son had RSV and needed to be admitted to the hospital.

He told me that they usually just see babies with RSV. Since their little immune systems are not fully developed, they cannot fight off RSV. Their parents or other family members may have thought they just had a mild cold, but it was most likely RSV. Which they passed to their baby.

It is anybody’s guess where my son got RSV, but I think it was from someone in his kindergarten class. But with asthma, every cold or flu can be worse than it is for kids that don't have asthma. It's usually just a mild cold for them.

Does RSV make the lungs look that bad?!

I remember seeing an X-ray on a light board in the open area of the ER. I noticed it because there was a group of nurses surrounding the X-ray who were all pointing at it and talking about it.

I was curious, so I walked over to see what everyone was looking at. The nurses saw me and all walked off. I thought that was weird.

Then I noticed it was my son’s chest X-ray! Apparently, everyone was shocked to see a 5-year-old in the ER with RSV. And my son’s lungs looked terrible.

My son was the talk of the ER that day. Lucky us.

They took us up to the Pediatrics wing, and my son was there for 3 days until they felt he was stable enough to go home.

After he was discharged, it took a while for him to get his strength back and his lungs cleared up.

Older children can be affected by RSV, too

Although all of the news stories about RSV focus on babies, I want you to know that older kids can get it and end up in the hospital too! I learned that if my child "just doesn't seem right" I needed to listen to my Mom Instinct and take them to the doctor - fast! If the doctor's office was already closed, we would go to After Hours, Urgent Care, or the ER.

Has anyone else had an older child end up in the hospital with RSV? Share your experience in our stories section by clicking the button below.

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