Susan’s Story

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I even had to sleep sitting up to avoid having a coughing fit.

A Persistent Cough

As someone who leads an active lifestyle—from kayaking to chasing my grandkids around—I am not one to easily be taken down. After having a persistent cough for more than a month, I knew something was wrong. I went to see my pulmonologist, but I left without a diagnosis. Instead, my doctor gave me an inhaler and recommended a few over-the-counter treatment options.

Over time, the cough worsened and caused a lot of wheezing. I headed back to the doctor where they tested me for COVID-19, flu, and RSV. When the test came back positive for RSV, I was shocked. I thought RSV was something children got and never thought it could happen to me at my age. I didn’t realize it could be severe even for adults.

The coughing was so bad that I considered going to the hospital multiple times. My breathing was labored, my chest was tight, and overall, I felt extremely lousy and fatigued. I even had to sleep sitting up to avoid having a coughing fit. I used heat and steam to try to feel better, but nothing really helped—it felt like flu without the associated fever.


Raising Awareness

After everything I went through, I now want to help raise awareness about the impact of RSV on older adults. My experience of contracting RSV at the age of 69 is a prime example of the health risks RSV can cause at any age.


My Continuing Journey

After my diagnosis, I continued to experience RSV symptoms such as fatigue, wheezing, coughing and a stuffy nose for several months. It has been a journey to return to my normal healthy state, but I am happy to have made it to the other side so I can be active again and spend time with my grandchildren, who always keep me on my toes.

Susan, a patient advocate, lives in Washington state with her husband. Reprinted with permission.  (Courtesy, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

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