A person's RSV symptoms will vary, depending on his or her age. For infants, illness begins most frequently with symptoms that include fever, runny nose, cough, and wheezing. In adults, symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, including runny nose, sore throat, cough, body aches, and other symptoms. Severe symptoms are more common in elderly people and people who take drugs that suppress the immune system.
An Overview of RSV Signs and Symptoms
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that causes respiratory infections. It is very contagious, and it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the bronchioles within the lungs) and pneumonia among infants and children under one year of age. When a person is infected with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the symptoms can vary.
Symptoms in Infants
For infants, illness begins most frequently with symptoms that include:
- Runny nose
During their first RSV infection, between 25 percent and 40 percent of infants and young children have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) or pneumonia, and 0.5 percent to 2 percent require hospitalization. The majority of children hospitalized for an RSV infection are under six months of age. Most children recover from RSV in 8 to 15 days.
Symptoms in Adults
RSV can cause repeated infections throughout life. In adults, symptoms of RSV are similar to those of the common cold, including:
Severe lower respiratory tract disease can occur at any age. If severe symptoms occur, a person can experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Inability to get enough oxygen
- A bluish or purplish tinge to skin.
Severe RSV symptoms are more common in children who:
- Have congenital heart disease
- Have bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Take drugs or have conditions that suppress the immune system.
Severe symptoms of RSV are also more common in the elderly.