Condition 101 About Parainfluenza

What is the definition of Parainfluenza?

Parainfluenza refers to a group of viruses that lead to upper and lower respiratory infections.

What are the alternative names for Parainfluenza?

Human parainfluenza virus; HPIVs

What are the causes for Parainfluenza?

There are four types of parainfluenza virus. They can all cause lower or upper respiratory infections in adults and children. The virus can cause croup, bronchiolitis, bronchitis and certain types of pneumonia.

The exact number of parainfluenza cases is unknown. The number is suspected to be very high. Infections are most common in fall and winter. Parainfluenza infections are most severe in infants and become less severe with age. By school age, most children have been exposed to the parainfluenza virus. Most adults have antibodies against parainfluenza, although they can get repeat infections.

What are the symptoms for Parainfluenza?

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 weak immune system.

In general, symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Cough or croup

What are the current treatments for Parainfluenza?

There is no specific treatment for the viral infection. Certain treatments are available for the symptoms of croup and bronchiolitis to make breathing easier.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Parainfluenza?

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 breathing difficulties develop.

What are the possible complications for Parainfluenza?

Secondary bacterial infections are the most common complication. Airway obstruction in croup and bronchiolitis can be severe and even life threatening.

When should I contact a medical professional for Parainfluenza?

Call your provider if:

  • You or your child develops croup, wheezing, or any other type of breathing difficulty.
  • A child under 18 months develops any type of upper respiratory symptom.

How do I prevent Parainfluenza?

There are no vaccines available for parainfluenza. A few preventive measures that may help include:

  • Avoid crowds to limit exposure during peak outbreaks.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Limit exposure to day care centers and nurseries, if possible.


Ison MG. Parainfluenza viruses. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 158.

Weinberg GA, Edwards KM. Parainfluenza viral disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 363.

Welliver Sr RC. Parainfluenza viruses. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 179.

Latest Advances On Parainfluenza

  • Condition: Subsegmental Pulmonary Embolism (SSPE) in Patients with Cancer
  • Journal: Blood advances
  • Treatment Used: Anticoagulation Therapy
  • Number of Patients: 206
  • Published —
This study identified the incidence and risk factors of recurrent proximal pulmonary embolism (clot) within 1 subsegmental pulmonary embolism (SSPE) in patients with cancer.
  • Condition: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection in Patients Younger Than 2 Years of Age with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
  • Journal: Annals of Saudi medicine
  • Treatment Used: Palivizumab Prophylaxis
  • Number of Patients: 530
  • Published —
This study evaluated palivizumab prophylaxis against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in patients younger than two years of age with congenital heart disease (CHD).

Clinical Trials For Parainfluenza

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 3
  • Intervention Type: Other, Drug
  • Participants: 1466
  • Start Date: March 2021
STOPping Anticoagulation for Isolated or Incidental Subsegmental Pulmonary Embolism