What Does RSV Feel Like?

November 3, 2023

The answer to that question varies greatly. RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, can be a minor illness that causes a small cough and a fever, or it can progress all the way to a medical emergency in the form of respiratory distress.

Severe RSV disproportionately affects young children and older adults, which is why it is important to keep a close eye on your loved ones when they are sick.

Our AFC Urgent Care Monroe Road team explains more about RSV and what symptoms to look out for below.

Is RSV Viral or Bacterial?

RSV is a viral infection that settles into the upper respiratory system and can cause mild cold-like symptoms to start. For adults, that’s usually as far as it will go! You may be dealing with some congestion, a cough or a fever for a day or two until it fades away.

The symptom progression may be much different in your children or your parents. They may also start out with mild cold symptoms, but it can quickly progress if the infection worsens. More inflammation and irritation in the airway can lead to serious breathing difficulties and respiratory distress.

Cold-Like Associated With RSV

  • Fever
  • Runny nose/congestion
  • Shallow breathing
  • Cough
  • Muscle or body aches

How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting RSV?

Like with any virus, preventing RSV completely isn’t possible. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk as much as possible. Limit the amount of time your child spends in large crowds, teach proper handwashing and explain how to cover coughs and sneezes in a responsible way.

You should also be mindful about who is allowed to kiss your child on the cheek or forehead at this time of year. RSV can spread through direct contact and a single unsuspecting kiss could lead to a serious infection. If your child ever starts to experience symptoms of respiratory distress, seek emergency medical treatment right away.

Symptoms That Require Medical Attention

  • Shallow breathing
  • Blue skin or fingernails
  • Feeling lethargic or extremely tired
  • Chest pain

RSV can be dangerous. We are always here for you at AFC Urgent Care Monroe Road.

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