DES MOINES, Iowa — A respiratory illness for kids is peaking early in Iowa and leading to more hospitalizations.

RSV is a common virus but can be serious. Leaders at Blank Children’s Hospital say its beds are full, with more than half of the patients being treated for respiratory illnesses.

RSV symptoms start off like those of a common cold but can lead to severe cough, breathing problems, and fatigue. Pediatricians say it’s important to keep children hydrated and remove as much snot as possible so that it doesn’t go down to the lower airways.

RSV usually peaks in November or December, but cases have already been high this week.

Dr. Amy Ferguson, Pediatric Hospitalist at Blank Children’s Hospital, says that could put a strain on the number of available beds.

“It’s not abnormal to come into the ER and sometimes we are full up on the inpatient floor and so families have to stay down on the ER a little bit longer. So, I would always encourage to use the primary care provider as that first person to kind of see if you actually need to go to the ER to help with wait times in the ER,” said Dr. Ferguson.

RSV can spread easily through respiratory droplets, so make sure to keep the nose clean and wash your hands frequently. Symptoms can last up to two weeks.

Dr. Ferguson says she is also seeing more flu cases now and that’s also earlier than in most years.