Definition of Parainfluenza
Parainfluenza refers to a group of viruses that lead to upper and lower respiratory infections.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
There are four types of parainfluenza virus, all of which can cause or lower respiratory infections (pneumonia) in adults and children. The virus can cause ,, and certain types of pneumonia.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of infection. Cold-like symptoms consisting of a runny nose and mild cough are common. Life-threatening respiratory symptoms can be seen in young infants with bronchiolitis and those with weakened immune systems.
Signs and tests
A physical exam may show sinus tenderness, swollen glands, and a red throat. The doctor will listen to the lungs and chest with a stethoscope. Abnormal sounds, such as crackling or wheezing, may be heard.
There is no specific treatment for the viral infection. Specific treatments are available for the symptoms of croup and bronchiolitis.
Most infections in adults and older children are mild and recovery takes place without treatment, unless the person is very old or has an abnormal immune system. Medical intervention may be necessary if develop.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/2/2009