Parainfluenza: an overview and more


Parainfluenza is a common virus that can cause upper and lower respiratory infections, including colds, bronchitis, croup, and pneumonia. Despite the name, it is not related to the flu . It is caused by a completely different virus known as the human parainfluenza virus (HPIV).

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Types of parainfluenza

There are four different types of HPIV:

  • HPV-1: the leading cause of croup in children
  • HPIV-2: also a common cause of croup; usually seen in fall
  • HPV-3: associated with pneumonia, bronchitis and bronchiolitis .
  • HPV-4: a less common type associated with a more serious disease.

Symptoms differ depending on the type of virus and the person.

Symptoms of parainfluenza

After affecting the development of symptoms, it takes two to seven days, the most common are :

  • Throat pain
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Hot
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Congestion
  • Earache
  • Chest pain
  • Lack of appetite

In most cases, the symptoms are not serious and can resemble a cold. Sometimes, however, symptoms can progress and lead to infections of the main bronchus of the lungs (bronchitis), the small airways (bronchiolitis), or the lung itself (pneumonia).

Children younger than 18 months, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly are at higher risk for severe symptoms of parainfluenza. Call 911 or go to the emergency room if the person has trouble breathing.


Like colds and flu, parainfluenza spreads easily from person to person. The virus itself is quite tough and can live on surfaces for up to 10 hours. As a result, it can spread quickly to places where people spend a lot of time in crowded conditions, such as kindergartens and elementary schools.

Parainfluenza infections are most common in spring, summer, and fall. Most cases of parainfluenza occur in young children, but you can get it at any age.

To prevent the spread of infection, the same rules apply for a cold or flu:

  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with someone with the flu or a cold.
  • Disinfect any objects and surfaces that the patient may have touched.
  • If you get sick, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • If someone is sick, they should stay home from school or work until they feel better.


In healthy people, parainfluenza is usually diagnosed by analyzing the symptoms and excluding other causes. People with weakened immune systems may undergo additional tests to determine the strain that affects them. Your healthcare provider may also take a throat culture or nasal swab to rule out other pathogens, such as influenza A.

After examining you and listening to your lungs, your healthcare provider may order imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan , to detect pneumonia and determine the right treatment for you.

Watch out

If symptoms are mild, medical intervention is usually not necessary. For fever or body aches, you can use Tylenol (acetaminophen) or an over-the-counter cold and flu remedy. (Children and teens should not take aspirin – check the recommended age for use on other product labels.)

For moderate to severe croup, steroids (usually dexamethasone) are given orally or intravenously. possible only if the patient is not intubated and is not vomiting. Epinephrine, if given, is given by inhalation through a nebulizer. For adults with parainfluenza pneumonia, treatment is supportive (eg, supplemental oxygen and / or ventilatory support) and sometimes inhaled bronchodilators such as albuterol and / or corticosteroids. …

Secondary pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics.

Get the word of drug information

Parainfluenza is more common than most people think, and in most cases, it is not particularly worrisome. In fact, most people don't know if they have a cold or HPV, and it usually doesn't matter. However, if symptoms worsen or persist, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

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