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Why is chicken pox more dangerous in adults than in children?

We all have pictures of families where children smile with all their teeth, covered with red rashes from head to toe. But then, why is this typical childhood disease so dangerous for adults?

Chickenpox is a disease that may seem benign in children, but in adults, it can have severe consequences. But why? Adults may be more likely to develop complications than children when they become sick. In the case of chickenpox, this may mean contracting pneumonia, hepatitis, and encephalitis. These risks increase in men.

The experts are not yet completely certain of the reasons but several explanations have been put forward. The first is the difference in the immune system between children and adults. That of children is dominated by a cell: phagocytes that have the capacity to encompass and destroy cells by digesting them. Adults use antibodies that attack microbes in groups.

Another theory

The other theory comes from Dr. John Swartzburg. He explains that the virus and its host may have an almost symbiotic relationship that could be disrupted if the person gets the virus at “bad age.” For example, polio is not as deadly when caught particularly young. However, these theories remain speculative and further research is needed to understand the origin of the dangerousness of chickenpox in adults.

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a rash illness that is very common. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a microorganism that belongs to the Herpesviridae family and is present only in humans. Also called HHV-3, it is easily transmitted from one individual to another, mainly through direct contact with the lesions of the sick, but also by air if they cough or sneeze.

After the contamination, the microorganism takes refuge in the respiratory system before multiplying intensively in the lymph nodes for several days. The viral particles thus created migrate into the blood to reach the skin. It is from this moment that the symptoms of chickenpox and especially pimples appear.

It is the children of 1 to 4 years who are the most exposed to this disease according to Doctissimo. In fact, they represent 58% of cases. The pregnant women should be especially careful against this epidemic because the infection can affect the fetus and cause severe neurological defects.

Helen Pruden

I was a practicing midwife and nurse for over 30 years before retiring in 2017 to spend more time with my husband and two children. Today, my main hobbies are reading and studying science. News Today World is my endeavor to report on the latest cutting-edge medical research, and I am responsible for all editorial decisions on this website.

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