What Are the Symptoms of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

A closeup image of a doctor listening to a baby’s chest with a stethoscope while the baby sits on his mother’s lap.

It’s officially that time of year: cold and flu season.

With more time spent in closer contact and quarters with others, germs seem to spread more quickly than ever, leaving us to wonder whether our symptoms are just a cold, allergies, or something more serious like the flu or respiratory syncytial virus.

Affecting a majority of children and those 65 and older, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV for short, leads to about 2.1 million outpatient urgent care and hospital visits each year for children 5 and under in the United States — a staggering number when speaking to such a small portion of the population. 

While RSV can be mild for some, it leads to several hospitalizations for those who experience severe respiratory syncytial virus symptoms. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms consistent with RSV, a severe cold, or the flu, we recommend visiting Amory Urgent Care for further evaluation and proper diagnosis.

Let’s discuss RSV in more detail, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options, below.

What Is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

As its name suggests, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that infects and impacts the lungs and respiratory tract.

RSV most commonly affects children but can be contracted by anyone regardless of age. 

Respiratory syncytial virus spreads from person to person through the air in infected respiratory droplets. It enters the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. It can also be contracted by direct contact with someone who has the virus already.

It is important to note that RSV can live on hard objects such as countertops, electronics, and toys for hours. So, touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a contaminated object may cause you to contract the virus.

An infected person is most contagious the first week after infection, but in infants and those with weakened immunity, the virus may continue to spread even after symptoms go away for up to 4 weeks.

RSV is diagnosed by a physical examination and symptom review. No specific laboratory testing is needed.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus Symptoms

Symptoms of RSV range from mild to severe and can impact those affected in several ways.

The most common respiratory syncytial virus symptoms include

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • A low-grade fever
  • Sore throat 
  • Headache
  • Sneezing

In more severe cases, you may experience

  • High fever
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blueish skin due to lack of oxygen

Most people recover fully in 1 to 2 weeks.

Severe or life-threatening RSV symptoms requiring a hospital stay may occur in premature infants or those previously diagnosed with heart or lung problems.

Comprehensive Care for RSV Is Here

Although many cases of RSV can be managed at home with proper hydration, rest, and over-the-counter medications, you should visit Amory Urgent Care if

  • Your symptoms last longer than a week
  • OTC medication isn’t helping to relieve symptoms
  • You have other underlying health conditions or a compromised immune system that may be affected
  • You have a high fever
  • Your symptoms are severe
  • The medication you’re taking is causing adverse side effects

Visit us today for the care you need now. Our expert team is here to help with all your symptoms of RSV or other illnesses, such as a cold or the flu.  No appointments are necessary. We are open seven days a week for you.