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Rhinoviral Infections - Causes, Symptoms, and Management

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Rhinoviral infections are quite familiar viral diseases that are highly catchy and are encountered across the globe. Read the article to know more about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Published At May 19, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 27, 2024


Certain diseases exhibit worldwide prevalence and are encountered by a major bulk of the population every year. Rhinoviral infections specifically represent a wide category of infections that a person encounters very often. It encompass a cluster of related and unrelated illness. The manifestations of rhinoviral infection determine the severity of the condition and treatment is advised accordingly.

What Are Rhinoviral Infections?

Rhinoviral infections are a spectrum of infections induced by a specific category of viruses that is extremely infectious and catching. It encompasses a wide category of infections ranging from the simple common cold to pneumonia. The nature, intensity, and severity of the infection are greatly influenced by various other factors like the patient’s immune response and general health status. Routinely, it is harmless and settles without troubling much. However, when the virus invades and attacks a weakened body, then it may pose certain complex health concerns.

What Are Rhinoviruses?

Rhinoviruses are a specific class of viruses encompassing numerous viruses which fall under the virus family Picornaviridae. This category of viruses primarily targets the respiratory tract, especially the upper portion of the respiratory tract. These are quite universal viruses that are present all over. Rhinoviruses exhibit numerous serotype variants with minute differences from the parent virus. These viruses are responsible for the widely reported disease - the common cold. However, it is also seen in association with complex health issues like asthma, further aggravating and potentiating the condition.

What Are the Symptoms Associated With Rhinoviral Infections?

Rhinoviral infections often precipitate an array of symptoms. Routinely encountered symptoms of rhinoviral infections include the following:

  • Fever: One of the hallmark symptoms elicited in rhinoviral infections consists of an elevation in the body temperature. Often the temperature may even rise up to 102 degrees Celsius.

  • Sore Throat: Patients are frequently reported with a raw and sore throat, making swallowing strenuous and awful.

  • Sneezing: It is very often noticed in rhinovirus infections, which makes the patients highly irritated and distressed. Frequent sneezing makes eyes teary and red.

  • Runny Nose: Sneezing is accompanied by a certain form of discharge or release from the nose.

  • Cough: Rhinoviral infections frequently precipitate cough. The intensity and nature of the cough vary largely based on the type of virus involved.

  • Aches: The patient may experience aches all over the body. At times, the infection also contributes to extreme headaches. The patient becomes severely weak and worn out.

  • Loss of Appetite: The patient would not feel like having food, which further enhances the general tiredness and weakness in the body.

What Are the Different Rhinovirus Infections?

Rhinoviruses are potentially capable of inducing diverse infections, specifically affecting the respiratory system. Some of the routinely encountered rhinoviral infections include the following:

  • Common Cold
    • It is the most widely and extensively reported rhinoviral infection in which the patient experiences a sudden hike in body temperature.

    • It is accompanied by a sense of a blocked-up (congested) nose creating discomfort and suffocation. In addition, a runny nose aggravates the condition and contributes to its infectivity.

    • The common cold is highly catchy and transmissible in nature. Once the person becomes infected, the viruses get emitted through secretions from the mouth, eyes, and nose. Therefore, physical contact enhances the risk of getting the infection.

    • The infection clears off in a couple of weeks, even without treatment. Antibiotics do not seem to be fruitful because of viral origin.

  • Acute Otitis Media
    • It is a form of infection that typically involves the ears. Several agents, including bacteria, viruses, allergies, deficiencies, and many more, contribute to the development of acute otitis media.

    • Recent research has concluded the role of rhinovirus in acute otitis media, and many of the studies figured out the presence of rhinoviruses parallel with other microbial agents giving rise to ear infection.

    • Infections involving the upper portion of the respiratory tract often result in an extension of the infection into the Eustachian tube (bridging the throat and ear) and eventually giving rise to acute otitis media.

    • Concurrent infection by bacterial agents potentiates the severity of the condition.

  • Rhinosinusitis
    • It is a peculiar disease condition in which viral particles invade the sinuses (cavities within the facial area).

    • Viral rhinosinusitis often precipitates severe headaches in patients. In addition, the patients may also elicit soreness over the facial areas, and the face appears puffy, which is contributed by the infective fluid collected in the sinuses. Often the infective fluid drains out through the nose.

    • Occasionally, a long-standing common cold paves the way for viral rhinosinusitis.

    • Saline irrigation of the affected sinus and nasal passage facilitates the treatment process for viral rhinosinusitis.

  • Croup
    • It is a typical form of respiratory tract infection, specifically involving the bronchi, trachea, and larynx.

    • Studies have concluded the presence of rhinovirus in croup patients, especially in the younger patient population.

    • Croup is often precipitated in the form of strenuous and stressful breathing, which is accompanied by a change in voice and a tendency to cough up.

  • Acute Bronchiolitis
    • Bronchiolitis induced by rhinoviruses is a potential health concern that is typically precipitated in newborn babies.

    • These infections rarely demand a hospital stay. As a result of this viral infection, the passage of the airway becomes restricted and eventually makes breathing laborious and strenuous.

    • Apart from the symptoms of a routine viral infection, the affected child develops abnormal and atypical sounds during breathing. These forms of viral infections have the potential to pave the way for recurring wheezing at later ages.

  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia
    • Rhinoviruses are frequently responsible for a significant fraction of community-acquired pneumonia.

    • Just like acute bronchiolitis, this community-acquired pneumonia also targets the younger population.

    • In certain cases, rhinoviruses are seen in association with other bacterial agents responsible for pneumonia, thereby potentiating the impacts of the infection.

    • The majority of the recent research favored the opinion that rhinoviral influence on pneumonia notably rises the death rate associated with community-acquired pneumonia.

  • Asthma
    • Rhinoviral infections frequently bring about asthmatic attacks. Childhood rhinoviral bronchiolitis often precipitates a higher likelihood of developing an asthmatic attack.

    • Rhinovirus-induced asthma later on projects remarkable hindrances for air passage.

    • These viruses tend to invade the lower airway track and then divide and form viral colonies over there, causing significant damage to the cells.


Rhinoviral infections are a group of prevalent and prevailing infectious diseases. More studies are going on with the intention to figure out the involvement of this spectrum of viruses in the development of several respiratory illnesses. It reflects mild flu-like illness and at times, creates a burden on the respiratory system. However, most of the infections settle and clear off by themselves within a few weeks.

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Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Infectious Diseases


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