Sometimes children and adults who have coughs and colds are unwell with Influenza-like Illness (including RSV). 

RSV or respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus which spreads very easily from person to person through infected droplets of saliva or mucus. These can be passed on by breathing, speaking, sneezing or coughing.

Most people take about 10 days to recover and will get better on their own. In some vulnerable people like the very young, elderly or those with complex medical conditions, this viral infection can spread into the lungs and cause severe illness.


Influenza-like Illness can cause a range of respiratory symptoms, including:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty feeding
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea an also occur (especially in children)

Anyone who are unwell with any of the above symptoms need to stay home and away from others, until they have been completely well for at least 24 hours.

If adults or children develop concerning symptoms, such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting, or if a child is not responding or is difficult to wake up, they should seek medical attention immediately – including calling 111 for an ambulance if it is an emergency.

In very young infants, irritability or decreased activity might be the only signs your child is becoming more unwell and needs to see a doctor. If you are concerned about your child's health (or your health) call your general practice or Healthline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 611 116.

Download our influenza information sheet (PDF).

Many of the ILI symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19. COVID-19 testing is important for any adult or young person with these symptoms. 

Covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and regular and thorough hand washing/drying are important steps to prevent the spread of illness.



For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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