The Symptoms and Treatment of Measles

May 7th 2016

The measles vaccine is highly effective at preventing the spread of measles, and experts recommend that all children who are able receive the vaccination. Complications associated with measles include ear infections, miscarriage for pregnant women, severe diarrhea, eye or ear infections, bronchitis or pneumonia. Anyone exposed to measles should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Measles

The telltale sign of measles is a red rash consisting of itchy, red bumps that start at the top of the head then gradually spread down the torso and legs until they cover the entire body. Because measles is fundamentally a respiratory virus, it also affects the respiratory tract. Measles symptoms typically include a runny nose, a harsh cough, a fever and sore eyes. Other symptoms include fatigue and muscle aches. Often, the disease first makes itself known through small white spots inside the mouth. Typically, by the time the rash appears, the patient has been sick and contagious for many days.

Measles Diagnosis

Many parents confuse the rash of measles with rashes associated with other conditions, so you should always see a doctor to confirm a presumed diagnosis. Doctors not only look for the rash, but also examine any white spots in the mouth or throat and take into consideration the flu-like symptoms of the disease. Blood or saliva tests are available to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating Measles

No treatment exists to make measles go away or to shorten the duration of the disease. Doctors often recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as fever and muscle aches, but no other medicines to treat the disease exist, and antibiotics are not helpful against this viral disease. During the two- to three-week duration of measles, the patient should stay away from anyone who is not vaccinated against the disease or hasn't had it. Patients should rest and drink large amounts of fluids. If a patient has a cough or sore throat, a humidifier may be helpful. Booster shots for anyone with naturally low levels of vitamin A may shorten the duration of the disease. Anyone not immunized who is exposed to measles should get the measles vaccination immediately to make his bout with the disease milder.

Conclusion

Measles is an extremely contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system and manifests as a red rash. Measles typically infects children; since most kids are immunized against the disease, only the unimmunized are susceptible. Because measles can be a fatal disease, immunization against it is crucial. Despite the widespread availability of measles vaccinations, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people per year.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Measles symptoms" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/measles/basics/symptoms/con-20019675
Patient.co.uk "Measles" http://www.patient.co.uk/health/measles-leaflet
Healthline.com "Measles" http://www.healthline.com/health/measles#Complications6

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