What is the RSV Symptom Timeline in Adults?

December 1, 2023

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is commonly associated with infants and young children. However, many people don’t realize that RSV can also affect adults– presenting a range of symptoms that can mimic a common cold or flu. Understanding the RSV symptom timeline in adults is crucial for timely diagnosis and appropriate care. In this blog, we’ll explain the causes and symptoms of RSV, as well as outline the expected symptom duration for adults.

For same-day RSV testing and treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Denver Cherry Creek. Our board-certified medical providers can evaluate your symptoms and plan the best treatment so you can recover quickly. Simply walk-in any day of the week, or pre-register your visit online.

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RSV in Adults: Causes and Symptoms

Respiratory Syncytial Virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Adults can contract the virus by direct contact with contaminated surfaces or through close contact with infected individuals– including their children. The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, making it easy to transmit by touching objects like doorknobs, toys, countertops, or other shared items. Certain factors can increase the susceptibility of RSV– including age, compromised immune systems, or other underlying health conditions.

Common symptoms of RSV in adults include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Wheezing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

The Duration of RSV Symptoms in Adults

The onset of RSV symptoms for adults can vary, often appearing within 4 to 6 days after exposure to the virus. The initial stage often mirrors symptoms of a mild cold or upper respiratory infection. These early symptoms might be mistaken for a regular seasonal ailment, which can cause individuals to underestimate the severity of the infection. As the virus progresses, usually within a week, symptoms can escalate and cause more pronounced respiratory distress. This phase of the illness can be particularly concerning for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Unlike children (where RSV infections often result in bronchiolitis or pneumonia), adults might develop conditions such as bronchitis or the exacerbation of underlying conditions. The timeline for potential complications can vary, occurring typically within 1 to 2 weeks after the onset of initial symptoms.

When To Seek Medical Attention for RSV Symptoms

It’s important for adults experiencing RSV symptoms to seek medical attention promptly, especially if they have any difficulty breathing, chest pain, worsening cough, or a persistent high fever. Diagnostic tests– nasal swabs or respiratory samples– can confirm an RSV infection. Treatment for adults with RSV primarily focuses on managing symptoms and providing supportive care. This can include over-the-counter medications to alleviate fever and discomfort, as well as plenty of rest and hydration.

Get Same-Day RSV Testing at AFC Urgent Care Denver Cherry Creek

While many people associate RSV with infants, it’s important to be aware that the virus can significantly affect adults. Understanding the symptoms timeline in adults is vital for early detection and appropriate treatment. Are you experiencing RSV symptoms? Visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Denver Cherry Creek for a full diagnosis and treatment plan. Our urgent care center is open seven days a week and provides immediate and preventive care to patients of all ages. If you have any additional questions about RSV testing or treatment, please call to speak with us directly at (303) 692-8000.

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