Each year it is reported when illnesses are on the rise and ‘sick season’ has officially begun. Statistics begin to come out regarding what percentage of the population is getting ill, how many deaths are taking place from related complications and what the severity of symptoms is. What many people don’t realize that there are a number of different strains of illnesses and these strains can vary and mutate from year to year. This is why a new flu shot needs to be made each year; in order to provide protection against the new virus. There are four major different types of viruses that contribute to parainfluenza viruses and each one comes with its own set of symptoms and risks, however, each of the viruses will affect the respiratory system in some form.
Many of the parainfluenza viruses have symptoms that are similar to the common cold and if a person contracts a mild case, it is common to be misdiagnosed. Without treatment, symptoms will go away though they do sometimes take a bit longer than your average cold. Fatigue can persist for a couple of weeks after the initial symptoms have subsided. People who have weakened immune systems or are susceptible to complications from illnesses can develop a number of complications from any of these viruses, including pneumonia which can result in death. Symptoms of any of these parainfluenza viruses can include:
-Shortness of breath
The four main types of HPIV included HPIV-1, HPIV-2. HPIV-3 and HPIV-4. Each of these viruses can affect any person regardless of how healthy they are. Some of these viruses are far more likely to affect children as many adults already have immunities to the virus or are not easily affected. Let’s take a closer look at each of these viruses:
This virus is what causes the croup in young children. Croup is very similar to a cold and can often be diagnosed as one. The difference is usually the characteristic cough that occurs along with other symptoms and it is caused by inflammation and swelling of the vocal chords. The croup is most common in the fall months of the year and cases of the croup ebb and flow with the change of seasons.
This virus is very similar to HPIV-1 as it also causes the croup but far less commonly. It also occurs most often in the autumn and the virus can live on a surface for up to ten hours.
This infection causes infections in the lungs such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Often a secondary infection, it is very contagious during the time that symptoms are present (Usually within days three to ten of being symptomatic).
There is a lot more information on the other forms of parainfluenza and this form of the virus is very rare. It doesn’t follow any typical seasonal pattern like many other viruses. You are contagious through close contact with an infected person.
If your doctor suspects that you are ill with one of these strains of parainfluenza, you will likely go through a thorough physical examination and be asked to detail what your symptoms are and how long you have been sick. Your doctor may determine that further testing can ensure that you are receiving proper medical care. An x-ray can ensure you don’t have a dangerous buildup of infected fluid in your lungs. CT scans can also give a detailed look at the state of your lungs.