Even though measles is already considered as a rare disease in most developed countries, it is still prevalent in several developing countries all over the globe. Measles is a highly transmittable viral infection that spreads when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Individuals who have measles are considered contagious once they develop a fever until about 4 days after the rash manifests. The common signs and symptoms of measles include the following:
- Runny nose
- Eye irritation
- Spots in the mouth
Other symptoms manifest if the complications occur. The groups that are highly vulnerable to measles complications include pregnant women, infants and individuals who have weakened immune systems.
Onset of measles
The start of measles is called the prodrome phase. This is the phase in which the symptoms start, but before the rash manifests. Always bear in mind that fever is the initial symptom of measles. It usually starts as a low-grade fever and steadily increases up to 103 degrees F or higher.
As the fever progresses, other symptoms start to emerge. These typically include sore throat, cough, runny nose and reddish, irritated eyes. In addition, the eye irritation often triggers sensitivity to light.
The Koplik spots are miniature, red-colored spots with bluish-white specks in the middle that appears in the mouth or interior of the cheek. These spots initially manifest a day or two before the measles rash develops. The spots last for a couple of days after the rash erupts and then starts to fade.
Once the Koplik spots are detected by the doctor, a diagnosis of measles is made even if the rashes have not yet manifested. It is vital to consult a doctor in order to confirm a diagnosis of measles so that proper steps can be taken to prevent the spread of this highly communicable disease.
In most cases, the rashes start to appear on the face and can spread over 3-4 days. The rashes spread downward from the head up to the toes and outwards to include the arms. The rash appears as flattened, pink blotches with an elevated center. These blotches can oftentimes overlap.
The fever oftentimes spike as the rash manifests and reduces as the rashes starts to subside. Take note that the rash usually lasts for a week and vanishes in the same sequence in which it manifested.
Digestive tract symptoms
Individuals who have measles might have a diminished appetite. There is difficulty in swallowing due to the sore throat which aggravates this problem. Children who have measles might also have diarrhea.
It is important to ensure adequate intake of fluids for those who have measles since the fever increases the water loss in the body. If there is dry mouth, dizziness during standing and reduced urine production, it may indicate dehydration.
In some children, they might develop an ear infection and complain of ear pain. Some individuals who have measles might even develop pneumonia as a complication of the condition. The symptoms include increased coughing and shortness of breath.
In rare cases, the measles virus spreads to the brain. Take note that this complication is called encephalitis and causes symptoms such as headaches, fever spike, vomiting, stiff neck and even seizures. In uncommon circumstances, coma can develop that can be fatal.