What Is Parainfluenza?

By james
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When you or your child develop respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, chest pain and sore throat, you may jump to the conclusion that you or your little one has the common cold. While this could very well be the case, there are several other viruses that cause the same symptoms. One such virus is parainfluenza.

Though it sounds scary (anything with the term “influenza” in it evokes goosebumps), parainfluenza is, for the most part, a harmless illness. In fact, most people experience it at some point in their lives without ever realizing it.

1. What Are Parainfluenza Viruses?

The term “parainfluenza” actually refers to a group of four viruses. Commonly referred to as HPIVs, these viruses cause infections in either the upper or lower respiratory systems of the body. However, each of the four HPIVs cause different symptoms and illnesses.

In almost all cases, the symptoms of HPIV resemble those of the common cold. Because of this, and when cases are mild, most people either never seek medical attention or, if they do, physicians incorrectly diagnosis the condition. In most healthy people, the virus resolves on its own. However, it can be fatal for immunocompromised individuals.


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