Measles is a viral illness that is highly infectious. It is most common in children between the ages of one and four although anyone can get the disease if they haven’t been vaccinated against it. The measles virus spreads very quickly and due to this it is important to know what the measles signs and symptoms are.
Measles is caused due to an infection related to the rubeola virus. The virus is contained in the water contained in the mouth and the nose and as such is spread through coughing and sneezing. You can catch the measles virus by either touching the surface that these drops have landed on or by inhaling them whilst they are airborne. Once the virus enters your body it will multiply and finally spread to your skin. A person suffering from measles will be contagious for between two and four days.
Measles Symptoms and Signs
Around ten to fourteen days after contracting the virus the following symptoms will begin to show:
• Red eyes and a sensitivity to light
• Cold like symptoms including a runny nose, sneezing, water eyes and swollen eyelids.
• A fever of around 39’C
• Small grey-white coloured spots in the mouth and/or throat
• Irritability and tiredness
• Low appetite
• Aches and pains
• Red spotty rash
The rash will appear between two to four days after the other symptoms and last for around eight days. Measles spots usually start behind the ears then move to the neck and head, followed by the legs before reaching the rest of the body. Most juvenile rashes are not measles so if you are unsure it is vitally important that you contact your GP.
If you or your child have experienced any of the above measles signs your GP will be able to diagnose the disease with a simple saliva or blood test. If the result is positive you should not return to work or school until five days after the rash has disappeared.
There isn’t a specific measles treatment for patients to follow, and usually you will be advised to rest until the virus is fought off by your immune system. If you don’t suffer any complications the measles symptoms will usually take between seven and ten days to disappear. The measles remedies include:
• Liquid ibuprofen or baby paracetamol for children. Paracetamol or aspirin for adults.
• Dimming the lights or closing the curtains.
• Drinking as much as you can to avoid dehydration.
• Using damp cotton wool to relieve the crustiness around the eyes.
In severe measles cases you may be admitted to hospital until the virus is contained.
Measles and Pregnancy
If you haven’t been vaccinated about measles and are considering starting a family you are highly advised to have a measles vaccination. Contracting measles during pregnancy has been known to cause infections in the unborn child and in the worst case scenario can result in death. Measles vaccines cannot be given whilst pregnant so thinking ahead is vital.