Complications of respiratory syncytial virus include:

  • Hospitalization. When respiratory syncytial virus infection causes severe illness, hospitalization may be required so that doctors can monitor and treat breathing problems and give intravenous (IV) fluids. Most at risk of hospitalization are babies younger than 6 months old, babies who are born prematurely, and babies with congenital heart or lung disease.
  • Pneumonia or bronchiolitis. When the respiratory syncytial virus moves from your upper respiratory tract to your lower respiratory tract, inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or the lungs' airways (bronchiolitis) can result. This complication can be quite serious in infants, young children, immunocompromised individuals, or people with chronic heart or lung disease.
  • Middle ear infection. When microorganisms infiltrate the space behind the eardrum, a middle ear infection (otitis media) can result. This happens most frequently in infants and young children.
  • Asthma. There may be a link between severe respiratory syncytial virus and the chance of developing asthma later in life.
  • Recurring infections. Once you've been infected with the virus, it's common to have an occasional recurrence of RSV, usually in the form of a common cold. Although subsequent infections typically aren't as severe as the first, they can be serious in older adults or people with chronic heart or lung disease.
Jul. 29, 2011