Complications of respiratory syncytial virus include:
- Hospitalization. A severe RSV infection may require a hospital stay so that doctors can monitor and treat breathing problems and give intravenous (IV) fluids.
- Pneumonia. RSV is the most common cause of inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or the lungs’ airways (bronchiolitis) in infants. These complications can occur when the virus spreads to the lower respiratory tract. Lung inflammation can be quite serious in infants, young children, older adults, immunocompromised individuals, or people with chronic heart or lung disease.
- Middle ear infection. If germs enter the space behind the eardrum, you can get a middle ear infection (otitis media). This happens most frequently in babies and young children.
- Asthma. There may be a link between severe RSV in children and the chance of developing asthma later in life.
- Repeated infections. Once you’ve had RSV, you could get infected again. It’s even possible for it to happen during the same RSV season. However, symptoms usually aren’t as severe — typically it’s in the form of a common cold. But they can be serious in older adults or in people with chronic heart or lung disease.