RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a seasonal lung infection that is highly contagious. This is a common childhood disease that can also affect adults. Most of the cases are mild, with symptoms similar to a cold. Pneumonia and bronchiolitis can result from a severe infection. RSV is prevented from spreading by adopting good hygiene. Let's understand more about RSV!

What is a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

The Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a respiratory virus that triggers infections in the lungs and respiratory tract. Most children contract the RSV virus by the age of two, making it one of the most common illnesses among children. RSV can also spread to adults.

Most healthy children and adults who get RSV will have a mild case with ordinary cold symptoms, and the condition will usually clear up within a week. Premature newborns, babies under 6 months old, individuals over 65, and people with a weaker immune system, chronic lung disease, or congenital cardiac problems are more likely to get RSV. A severe RSV infection can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis, both of which may need hospitalization, and RSV can significantly worsen pre-existing heart and lung problems.

Is RSV contagious?

Yes, RSV is highly contagious, and the infection spreads most easily during the first few days or weeks of symptoms. Some babies and individuals with low immune systems may continue to be contagious up to four weeks after the onset of their symptoms.

How does RSV spread?

Close contact with an infected individual spreads RSV. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus enters the air and can enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. One can develop RSV if they touch something where the virus has landed and then contact their face or lips.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

RSV symptoms might appear two to eight days after the virus enters the body. The following are the most common RSV symptoms:

RSV symptoms can affect individuals of all ages differently. The following are the symptoms that can affect both children and adults differently:

Symptoms of RSV in babies

Coughing and a runny nose are not common RSV symptoms in infants. RSV can cause the following symptoms in babies under the age of six months:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Fussiness or irritability
  • Changes in their breathing pattern
  • Minimal interest in activities

Babies under 6 months of age may need hospitalisation to monitor their breathing and oxygen levels if they contract RSV, especially if they have other chronic conditions.

Symptoms of RSV in adults and children

RSV symptoms are very mild in children over the age of six, or they may not develop at all. If a child or adult develops RSV symptoms, they are similar to those of a common cold and include:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild headache
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

If you or your child is having problems in breathing, go to the emergency unit. Contact the healthcare provider if you have RSV symptoms and are over the age of 65, have a damaged immune system, or have a heart or lung disease. RSV can progress into a severe infection that requires medical attention.

What causes RSV?

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a common infection that causes respiratory disease. The respiratory syncytial virus attacks the respiratory tract and enters the lungs through the nose and throat. The condition affects or destroys cells in the lower respiratory tract, triggering symptoms.

Can RSV lead to severe illnesses?

RSV has the possibility of causing major medical issues that can be fatal if not treated. Among these conditions are:

  • Bronchiolitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Worsening heart and lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Who is at risk for RSV?

Most children contract RSV before the age of two just by interacting with other children. Being in crowded places with infected people, or being exposed to other children or siblings who are infected, are additional common ways to obtain the virus.

Is there a cure for RSV?

RSV currently has no treatment, and researchers are continually learning about the virus and seeking ways to prevent infection or manage severe sickness.

How is RSV treated?

Mild RSV symptoms are similar to a regular cold and do not need medical treatment. At-home treatment for RSV includes the following:

  • Staying hydrated by drinking fluids and eating regularly, even if you have a low appetite.
  • Blowing the nose using a tissue to keep the airways open or gently suctioning excess mucus from the infant's nose.
  • Using OTC medications to treat a fever or pain. If the child has a fever, do not give aspirin. Consult with a health expert before taking any over-the-counter cold medications, especially ones you intend to give to a child, to ensure their safety.
  • Applying saline nasal drops to break up mucus in the nose.
  • Getting enough rest.
  • No smoking or vaping of tobacco products.
  • If the doctor recommends it, use a cool mist vaporizer to ease dry breathing passages.

Treatment for severe RSV

Severe RSV treatment may include:

  • Getting oxygen with the use of a mask, nasal prongs, or a breathing machine (ventilator).
  • Fluids are introduced into the body through an IV inserted into a vein in the arm.
  • To remove mucus from the lungs, a small tube is inserted into the airway.
  • Using antiviral medications to help the body fight the virus.

Only around 3% of RSV patients require hospitalisation, and the rest are discharged within a few days.


RSV can be a scary condition for new parents with young children. If the child shows any RSV symptoms, get in touch with a doctor immediately, especially if they are under the age of 6 months.

Make an appointment just in few minutes - Call Us Now