Diagnosis

Your doctor may suspect respiratory syncytial virus based on the findings of a physical exam and the time of year the symptoms occur. During the exam, the doctor will listen to the lungs with a stethoscope to check for wheezing or other abnormal sounds.

Laboratory and imaging tests aren't usually needed. However, they can help diagnose RSV complications or rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests to check white cell counts or to look for viruses, bacteria and other germs
  • Chest X-rays to check for lung inflammation
  • Swab of secretions from inside the mouth or nose to check for signs of the virus
  • Sometimes, painless skin monitoring (pulse oximetry) to detect lower than normal levels of oxygen in the blood
July 22, 2017
References
  1. Ferri FF. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2018. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 12, 2017.
  2. Goldman L, et al., eds. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 12, 2017.
  3. RSV transmission. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission. Accessed June 12, 2017.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Respiratory syncytial virus: Initial evaluation. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  5. Kliegman RM, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 20, 2016.
  6. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) — Treatment. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/rsv/understanding/Pages/treatment.aspx. Accessed June 27, 2017.
  7. Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Treatment. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 26, 2017.
  8. AskMayoExpert. Respiratory syncytial virus: Treatment. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  9. RSV prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/prevention.html. Accessed June 26, 2017.
  10. Ralston SL, et al. Clinical practice guideline: The diagnosis, management, and prevention of bronchiolitis. Pediatrics. 2014;134:e1474.
  11. AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and Bronchiolitis Guidelines Committee. Updated guidance for palivizumab prophylaxis among infants and young children at increased risk of hospitalization for respiratory syncytial virus infection. Pediatrics. 2014;134:415.
  12. Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 30, 2017.
  13. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2017.
  14. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): Symptoms and care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/symptoms.html. Accessed July 7, 2017.
  15. Piedra D. Bronchiolitis in infants and children: Treatment, outcome, and prevention. https://www.uptodate.com. Accessed July 11, 2017.
  16. Baughn JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 11, 2017