RSV is a common and contagious respiratory virus that usually causes mild symptoms but can be dangerous in certain adults, including older adults and adults with certain underlying conditions.
RSV can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, headache, and tiredness. While most RSV symptoms are mild, in more severe RSV infections, shortness of breath or trouble breathing can occur.
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. However, some adults with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks.
Anyone can get RSV. There is an increased risk for severe disease in older adults and adults with certain underlying chronic conditions.
RSV is a common, contagious respiratory virus that is usually mild but can severely impact older adults and adults with certain underlying chronic conditions.
Being an older adult can put you at increased risk for severe complications due to RSV, even if you’re healthy.
There are various types of tests for RSV. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
RSV infections commonly begin to occur during the fall, peak in the winter, and subside during the spring in most regions of the US.
Some ways you can help prevent RSV infection are to:
- Wash your hands
- Keep your hands off your face
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect surfaces around you
- Stay home when you’re feeling sick
The body’s immune system typically weakens with older age and has a harder time fighting off infections, such as those from RSV. If you are an older adult or have certain underlying conditions, you may be at a higher risk for severe infections from RSV. At your next appointment, talk to your doctor about your risk.
If you have asthma, congestive heart failure (CHF), or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may be at increased risk of severe RSV infection. If you have coronary artery disease (CAD) or diabetes, there is evidence to suggest you may be at increased risk of hospitalization due to RSV.
Evidence suggests adults with diabetes may be at increased risk of hospitalization due to RSV.
Adults with CHF may have an increased risk of severe RSV infection. Additionally, evidence suggests that adults with CHF may be at an increased risk of complications due to RSV, such as hospitalization.
Adults with COPD or asthma may have an increased risk of severe RSV infection, which may lead to complications such as exacerbations of COPD or asthma.
Questions to ask your doctor about RSV
- As an older adult or an adult with an underlying condition, should I be concerned about RSV?
- What is my risk of complications due to RSV?
- How could RSV impact my underlying condition?
- Is there a test for RSV?
- What can I do to feel better if I get RSV?
- How long should I isolate if I’m infected with RSV?
- What can I do to help prevent RSV?
Visiting your doctor to discuss RSV?
To get the most out of your appointment, remember to:
- Write down your questions.
- Take notes or have someone with you to help listen.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your health is
a top priority.