Respiratory Syncytial Virus Symptoms

Each year, 60,000 to 120,000 adults are hospitalized in the US due to the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Additionally, 58,000 to 80,000 children under five years old are hospitalized annually with the same virus. 

These statistics illustrate how quickly this common virus can lead to severe repercussions if not treated promptly.

Keep reading to learn more about Respiratory Syncytial Virus symptoms and how the virus spreads and affects people.

What Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a respiratory virus that mainly targets the bronchioles in the lungs. This virus is common in children and primarily affects infants.

RSV also affects adults, especially the elderly.

Typically, anyone can get RSV since it manifests itself as a cold. However, most people don’t know they have the virus because it clears after a week and can present at times with only mild symptoms.

Those who experience the severity of the RSV virus are premature babies or people with a weak immune system.

Ultimately, RSV is a serious virus, and you should seek medical treatment immediately after you suspect you have the virus.

Who Does It Affect?

Most children are usually affected by this virus when they are two years old. On many occasions, the virus manifests itself in children as a common cold since they usually have the same symptoms.

Adults are also at risk, and RSV can be dangerous in some incidences. However, those who are mainly at risk include:

  • Infants. Premature infants or babies who are under two years are most at risk. The virus is common among this age group because infants have a weak immune system.
  • Adults above 65 years. Adults above 65 years are also at risk because their immune system is weaker and is slow to respond to the virus.
  • Adults and children with a related underlying condition. Since RSV is a respiratory infection, those with respiratory issues, including children and adults, are at risk. Examples of these respiratory issues include asthma and lung problems.

Ultimately, anyone can get RSV, but children and adults above 65 have a higher risk of a severe infection.

How Does It Spread?

RSV spreads when someone comes into contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. Here are various ways the virus spreads.

  • If an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can get the virus if an infected person coughs or sneezes on your body, especially your arms.
  • If the virus is in the air. When an infected person sneezes, these respiratory droplets usually travel in the air and can enter your body through the nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • If you have direct contact with the carrier. The virus can be spread when someone kisses their partner or child with RSV.
  • If you touch a surface with respiratory droplets. RSV can still be present on hard surfaces, such as tables and door knobs for hours. Thus, you will get this virus if you touch these surfaces and then touch your face without washing your hands.

Those infected with RSV are normally infectious after 3 to 8 days, depending on one’s immunity. However, babies and older adults with weak immune systems may spread the virus even four weeks after their symptoms commence.

Ultimately, one should be vigilant to avoid getting it, especially when caring for someone with the virus.

What Are the Symptoms?

You will notice the RSV symptoms two to eight days after infection. However, don’t expect the symptoms to appear all at once since they arise in stages. The most common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • High fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having a runny nose
  • Wheezing

However, the RSV symptoms may affect people differently depending on their age group.

Let’s discuss each age group’s symptoms in detail.

RSV Symptoms in Babies

RSV in babies is different since not all infants experience the common RSV symptoms, such as coughing. Your baby may have the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • They may be irritable
  • Changes in the baby’s breathing
  • Lack of interest in various activities

Take your baby to the hospital immediately after you suspect they may have RSV, especially if they have a chronic health problem.

RSV Symptoms in Children

These symptoms are usually evident in children between 1 and 3 years. They include:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having a runny nose
  • Swallowing problems
  • Lack of interest in various activities, such as playing.

RSV Symptoms in Adults

Adults and children above five years may not experience any RSV symptoms. However, they may still show some mild symptoms, especially if the RSV is severe. Some of these symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Mild headache
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Running nose

Is RSV Fatal?

Yes, RSV can lead to death. Besides malaria, this virus is the second cause of death among young children. Approximately 100,000 to 200,000 children die from RSV annually. In children, this virus is fatal because it can lead to pneumonia, thus causing death.

In adults, it can lead to death, especially if you have respiratory issues. For instance, if you have lung disease, this virus can aggravate the problem, leading to death.

RSV is fatal, and one should seek medical treatment immediately, especially if you have other respiratory issues.

What Should You Do If You Suspect You Have This?

There isn’t a specific cure for RSV, and on certain occasions, the infection subsides after a week or two. However, there are various things you can do to relieve respiratory syncytial virus symptoms.

  • Relieve the pain and fever. You can relieve the pain and fever using various over-the-counter drugs, such as ibuprofen. However, consult a doctor before giving your child some of these medications because they may not be ideal for children.
  • Take plenty of water. You should take adequate water to prevent dehydration, especially if you have RSV.
  • Take measures to avoid spreading the virus. Take specific measures, such as cleaning surfaces to prevent the spreading of the virus.
  • Consult your doctor. Consult a doctor if the symptoms don’t subside since you may have an underlying issue.

How We Can Help

At Citra, we will ensure you have the best healthcare experience. Expect the best healthcare services when you come in with Respiratory Syncytial Virus symptoms.

We will offer pediatric care to your child by assessing their RSV symptoms and giving them the proper treatment. We also have senior care for adult patients with RSV.

If you cannot visit our clinic, our virtual services are ideal for you, and we will provide treatment for the RSV.


RSV is a serious virus that one shouldn’t take lightly, especially if you have a respiratory problem. Furthermore, in the worst cases, this virus is fatal. Select a location near you, and schedule a time to talk to a doctor if the RSV symptoms persist.