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Doctor On Demand Blog

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory infection that can affect individuals of all ages, but it is particularly prevalent in young children and older adults. 

Understanding the symptoms of RSV is crucial, especially as they are similar to those of COVID-19, the common cold, or the flu. Let’s explore the distinctive signs of RSV in both children and adults, highlight the similarities with other respiratory illnesses, and emphasize the importance of seeking professional medical advice.

Symptoms of RSV in Children

Coughing and Sneezing
Persistent coughing and sneezing are common early symptoms of RSV in children.

RSV often causes a fever in children, which may range from mild to moderate.

Difficulty Breathing
Shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and wheezing can be signs of more severe RSV infections in children.

Irritability and Fatigue
Children with RSV may exhibit increased irritability, fussiness, and overall fatigue.

Poor Appetite
Loss of appetite is another potential symptom, as respiratory infections can affect a child’s interest in eating.

Symptoms of RSV in Adults

Cough and Congestion
Adults with RSV may experience persistent coughing and nasal congestion.

Fever and Chills
A fever, accompanied by chills, is a common symptom in adults infected with RSV.

Sore Throat
RSV can cause a sore throat, adding to the discomfort experienced by adults.

Muscle Aches
Similar to the flu, RSV may lead to muscle aches and general body discomfort.

Shortness of Breath
In severe cases, RSV in adults can result in difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

Similarities with COVID-19, Common Cold, and Flu

  • Fever: RSV, COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu can all cause fever, making it a shared symptom.
  • Coughing and Sneezing: Respiratory symptoms such as coughing and sneezing are common in all these illnesses.
  • Shortness of Breath: While more common in severe cases of RSV and COVID-19, shortness of breath can also occur in the flu and, to a lesser extent, the common cold.
  • Fatigue and Muscle Aches: These symptoms are typical in RSV, the flu, and COVID-19, but less common in the common cold.

Encouraging a Telehealth Visit

If you or your child are experiencing symptoms that may align with RSV, COVID-19, the common cold, or the flu, it’s crucial to seek medical advice promptly. Telehealth providers such as Doctor On Demand provide a convenient and accessible platform for virtual visits, allowing you to connect with healthcare professionals from the comfort of your home. With potential coverage through your health plan or employer, getting a diagnosis has never been more accessible.


Recognizing the symptoms of RSV is the first step towards timely and appropriate medical intervention. Respiratory infections can share common features making it essential to consult with healthcare professionals through platforms like Doctor On Demand for accurate diagnosis and personalized guidance. Remember, early detection and proper care can make a significant difference in the course of respiratory illnesses.

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