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What is Measles Disease? Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment


Measles Overview


Measles disease is a viral infection caused by the rubeola virus. It is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. If one person has measles, there are 90 percent chance that the people close to that person will also become infected if they are not immune. People infected with measles may experience a runny nose, cough, red eyes, and high fever. These symptoms can be seen after about eight to twelve days of being exposed to the virus.


A measles disease can lead to life-threatening complications. It is extremely dangerous for young children and babies. In 2018, around 140,000 people died from measles. Vaccination is the only way to prevent this disease. But due to a weakened immune system and other health problems, some people cannot have the vaccination. Pregnant women should also not take measles vaccination.


Symptoms of Measles 


As discussed earlier, it takes eight to twelve days to see the symptoms of measles after getting exposed to the rubeola virus. Let’s look at the common symptoms of measles.


  • High fever up to 104°F
  • Runny nose, muscle aches, and sore throat
  • White spots in the mouth two to three days after early symptoms
  • A red rash that spreads downward from the head
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or vomiting.
  • Fatigue and discomfort 


Causes of Measles


Measles is caused by the rubeola virus. It is a contagious disease that is mostly spread by:

  • Sharing food or drinks with someone having measles


  • Kissing a person with measles


  • From mother to baby during delivery, nursing, or pregnancy


  • Contact with a surface or object contaminated by an infected individual’s mucosal secretions


  • Holding hands or shaking hands with a person infected with measles


  • Contaminated droplets spread through the air when an individual with this disease coughs, sneezes, or talks.


Types of Measles Infection


These are the common types of measles infections.


Modified Measles- Modified measles is commonly seen in individuals who receive immune globulin as postexposure prophylaxis. The infection can also occur in infants with residual maternal measles antibodies. The symptoms of this disease include a short-lived rash, prolonged incubation periods, and mild prodrome. It is a less transmissible form of measles and is rarely reported. 


Atypical measles syndrome- This disease was recognized fifteen years ago. It occurs in people who were immunized against measles but were given the old killed-virus measles vaccine or the attenuated live measles vaccine that became inactivated during improper storage. Symptoms of AMS include abdominal pain, oedema, headache, high fever and rash.


Haemorrhagic measles- Haemorrhagic measles is rarely reported. The symptoms of this disease include seizures, delirium, bleeding under the skin, and difficulty breathing. 


Complications of Measles


In complex cases, measles disease can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, etc. It can also cause bronchitis and severe diarrhoea. In some cases, it can even lead to blindness.


Diagnosis of Measles


The only way to diagnose measles disease is by seeing a doctor. The doctor will examine you and ask you to do laboratory tests to detect the virus in urine samples, secretions from your throat and nose, and blood. 


How to Manage the Symptoms of Measles?


Measles treatment is not available yet. You can follow some self-care tips to relieve the symptoms of this disease.


Stay Hydrated- Once you have been diagnosed with measles, take adequate liquid each day to prevent dehydration. You can take juices, soups, water, and milk. The doctor may even suggest you take an oral rehydration solution as it has the right amounts of sugar, water, and salts needed to replace body fluids.


Take adequate rest- Get plenty of sleep so that your body can relax and regain its functioning after weakened immunity.


Eat Soft Foods- If you’re infected with measles, don’t eat food that is hard to chew. You can eat soft foods like mashed potatoes, rice, soup, and oats.


Take Acetaminophen- If you’re experiencing body aches and fever, you can take Acetaminophen. It is an over-the-counter drug available without a doctor’s prescription. You should consume it only after consulting your doctor, as if you take the incorrect dose, it can damage your liver.


Take NSAIDs- You can also take NSAIDs to reduce pain and swelling. You should not take this medicine if you’re taking a blood thinner. NSAIDs can cause kidney problems or stomach bleeding in certain people. So always consult your healthcare provider before taking it.


Measles Treatment


There is no measles treatment to date. You can only manage the symptoms if you have got infected by this disease. 


How To Prevent Measles


Here are a few things you can do to prevent measles disease.


Ask your doctor about the MMR vaccine- MMR vaccine can protect you and the people around you from mumps, measles, and rubella. This vaccine is apt for both kids and adults. Tell your healthcare provider if you did not receive this vaccine during childhood.


Wash Your Hands Regularly- Another effective way to prevent measles is by washing your hands regularly and maintaining hygiene. Wash your hands after you eat, use the bathroom, and before you prepare food. Wash the back and front of your hands properly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds.


Cover Your Mouth And Nose While Coughing- Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing. You can also use your hand if tissue is not available.


Don’t Share Items- Avoid physical contact, and do not share handkerchiefs, clothes, towels, or other personal items with anyone.


Keep Your Surrounding Clean- It is important to maintain your personal hygiene and keep everything around you clean. Use a disinfecting wipe or a cloth to clean kitchen cabinets, the insides of the refrigerator, microwave, and cupboards. To create a disinfecting cleaner, you can mix 10 parts water with 1 part bleach.


By following these tips and tricks, you can prevent the spread of measles disease and lead a healthy life. See a specialised doctor at a reputed hospital for measles diagnosis and treatment for further management.

Medanta Medical Team
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