What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?

Saturday, May 15th, 2021, 8:42 am

The respiratory syncytial virus is also called RSV. It’s common, with the vast majority of children having been infected by RSV by the age of 2. While RSV usually resolves on its own, a better understanding of the virus can help you manage the infection and identify it in children.

How RSV is Transmitted

RSV can be transmitted when droplets of the virus, released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, gets in the eyes, nose, or mouth of someone else. The virus can also live on surfaces and spread when someone touches a surface with the virus, then touches their face. Once infected with RSV, people are typically contagious for 3 to 8 days. 


Symptoms of RSV typically appear 4 to 6 days after being infected and come in stages, rather than all at the same time. These symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Fever 
  • Runny nose

Infants with RSV may only have decreased activity, breathing trouble, and irritability as symptoms. 


There isn’t a designated treatment for RSV. To help with pain and bring down the fever, you may take over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Note that aspirin should never be given to children. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important to recover from RSV. 

Risks and Recovery

Most children and adults make a full recovery from RSV within 1 to 2 weeks and don’t need to be hospitalized. However, for infants and elderly individuals, the virus can be dangerous. 

RSV is the most frequent cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under in age of 1 in the U.S. Bronchiolitis is the inflammation of the lung’s small airways, and pneumonia is an infection affecting the lungs. These are more severe infections than RSV and may require hospitalization. Additionally, a small number of children and adults with RSV may experience trouble breathing and dehydration, potentially requiring hospitalization for a few days. 

Suncoast Urgent Care provides expert medical care for respiratory concerns, including RSV. Contact us today to learn more. 

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Category: Infections

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