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RSV Can Impact Adults Too. Here’s What To Know

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Each year, it’s estimated that more than 160,000 U.S. adults are hospitalized and 10,000 of them die due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, a common respiratory virus.

While most people only develop mild symptoms similar to that of a common cold, RSV can be dangerous for certain people at high risk, including some adults.

The American Lung Association’s campaign to educate people living in the United States about RSV in adults is supported in part by a grant from GSK.

As part of the campaign, they are sharing patient insights, along with information about the risk of severe complications from RSV, and steps people can take to help protect themselves.

Risk Factors

Adults 65 years and older are at higher risk of RSV that can be severe and even life threatening. Also at high risk are adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems. RSV in some cases may worsen asthma or COPD symptoms, lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis, or even result in congestive heart failure. Adults at high risk need to be especially vigilant during RSV season, which is occurring in the United States right now.

Michele D.’s childhood memories of medical visits and treatments for her asthma helped shape her path in life, inspiring her to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist so that she could care for and educate others also living with asthma or other lung diseases.

Even with Michele’s extensive knowledge of respiratory diseases and her lived experience of growing up with asthma, her severe bout of RSV in December 2022, which hospitalized her and lead to pneumonia, took her by surprise.

“I’m a respiratory therapist, and I know RSV can be serious, but I wasn’t expecting it to impact me the way that it did and for as long as it did,” says Michele. “I don’t think most people living with chronic lung disease realize how an RSV infection can impact their lives. I didn’t.”


Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of severe RSV:

• Keep up to date on all recommended vaccinations. In June 2023, the CDC recommended RSV vaccination for adults 60 and older who have discussed with their healthcare provider whether it’s right for them.

• If you live with a chronic lung disease, such as asthma or COPD, work with your healthcare team to keep the condition under control so your lungs can better heal from infectious respiratory diseases.

• When possible, stay away from individuals who are sick with respiratory infections to reduce your chance of becoming ill.

• Wash your hands often and try not to touch your face with unwashed hands as that is a common route for infections to occur.

For more information and prevention resources, and to learn your risk for RSV complications, visit

“I know how important it is, living with asthma, to reduce my likelihood of getting sick with a respiratory infection,” Michele shares. “If there is a way to help prevent getting that sick again, I’m in.” (StatePoint)

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