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Measles - Symptoms

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Symptoms of Measles

The signs and symptoms of measles infection usually begin 10 to 12 days after exposure, which is known as the incubation period. The symptoms progress as follows:

Early symptoms of measles

These early symptoms of measles are usually missed as they give a false picture of respiratory infection. They tend to get worse with appearance of rash and some of them may persist for weeks.

  • Fever, with spikes often as high as 104 or 105 degree Fahrenheit.

  • Persistent dry cough.

  • Running nose.

  • Sore painful throat.

  • Reddening of eyes (conjunctivitis) with intolerance to light.

  • Fatigue, tiredness.

  • Headache.

  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes behind the neck.

  • Pain in joints of the hands, wrists, and knees.

  • Koplik's spots: These are tiny, greyish spots with a bluish-white centre. They appear only in the inside the mouth on the lining of your cheek.

Primary Measles Symptom: Measles rash

The measles rash develops within two to four days following the appearance of the above symptoms. It is a red rash that typically begins first on the face, in and around the ears. It then spreads to the rest of your body, arms and legs within a few days.

The measles rash initially appears as small red bumps (a couple of millimetres) but join later appearing bigger. Fever usually accompanies the rash and may run as high as 40 degree Celsius for a couple of days. The rash is usually not itchy, but as it clears up, the skin may shed to leave some brown spots.

Further Complications of Measles

You may fall seriously ill with measles, but most people recover completely. Unfortunately, a few complications of measles do exist. These include:

  • Ear infection: This may occur in one out of every 10 children.

  • Encephalitis: This inflammation of the brain due to measles occurs in about one in 1,000 people. Encephalitis may occur soon after measles, or very rarely can occur years later. It is then called Dawson's encephalitis.

  • Pneumonia: About one in 15 suffer from this complication and it can be life-threatening too.

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting.

  • Bronchitis, laryngitis: This is an inflammation of your voice box (larynx) or inflammation of the inner walls of the air passageways of your lungs (bronchial tubes).

  • Thrombocytopenia: It is a condition of low platelet count, which may be serious, as these types of blood cells are essential for blood clotting.

  • Pregnancy problems: Pregnant women if infected with measles have a high risk of miscarriage, premature labour and low birth weight babies.

  • Congenital rubella: This is one of the most feared complications of measles. It occurs when the virus is passed from an infected pregnant mother to her unborn child. The affected infants may have cataracts, heart defects, hearing impairment, and learning disabilities.

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