What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?
The causative organisms of this disease are viruses that originate from Enterovirus genus, commonly the coxsackievirus. Viruses like these can be contracted through direct contact with surfaces that are contaminated with feces or dirty hands. It can equally be contracted via coming in contact with the saliva, respiratory secretions or stool of someone who is infected.
Hand foot and mouth disease is never without sores or blisters in the mouth as well as a visible rash on the feet and hands. This infection normally affects people of all ages, but it seems to be more popular with children under the age of 5. Basically, it is an unserious condition that can disappear after a few days.
What are the indications of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
After the initial infection, symptoms develop within a period of 3 to 7 days, which coincidentally happens to be its incubation period. When symptoms show, up you are likely to experience the following:
- a poor appetite
- a fever
- a headache
- a sore throat
- painful, red blisters in the mouth
- red rash around the hands and on the feet’ sole.
A sore throat and fever are normally the starting symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease. The blisters and rashes usually appear later, mostly a day or two after the fever strikes.
What causes hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Hand foot and mouth disease is mostly instigated by a coxsackievirus strain, mostly the coxsackievirus type A16. The coxsackievirus exist as part of a bigger category of viruses known as enteroviruses. In some other scenarios, other enteroviruses can be responsible for hand foot and mouth disease.
Viruses are spread easily from one person to another. You or your children may contract hand foot and mouth disease via coming in contact with the following:
- saliva, or
- fluid from blisters, or
- feces, or
- respiratory droplets sprayed in the air after sneezing or coughing from an infected person.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is equally spread through direct contact with surfaces that contain the virus or unwashed hands.
Who is liable to hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Kids are more at risk of catching this infection. The risks are even higher in places like daycare centers or schools, as the virus can spread in such facilities at great speed. Children normally boost their immunity to the hand foot and mouth disease after they have been exposed to the virus, explaining why people who are over the age of 10 rarely contracts the disease. Nevertheless, older children and even adults are likely to get the infection if they have an immune system that is weakened.
How can hand, foot, and mouth be disease diagnosed?
Hand foot and mouth disease can be diagnosed by a doctor by carrying out a simple medical examination on the person. They normally check the mouth as well as other body parts for signs of rashes and blisters. Doctors also love to discuss symptoms with their patients, be it an adult or a child.
The doctor may need a stool sample or throat swab for testing for the virus. This normally helps them confirm their diagnosis more.
How hand, foot, and mouth disease can be treated?
In majority of cases, the infection usually goes away on its own without any treatment in a period of 7 to 10 days. However, doctors may be forced to recommend specific treatments that can reduce the symptoms until the disease has completed its lifecycle. These include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription topical ointments to is good for rashes and blisters.
- Pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for relieving headaches.
- Lozengesto or medicated syrups for easing painful sore throats.
Specific home-based treatments can equally help to relieve hand foot and mouth disease symptoms. You can apply the following home treatments to help reduce the painful effect of blisters:
- Suck on popsicles or ice.
- Eat sherbet or ice cream
- Drink beverages that are cold.
- Stay away from fruit drinks, soda and citrus fruits.
- Stay away from salty or spicy foods.
Do this several times a day or as often as needed. Swishing of warm salt water in the mouth can equally help to reduce the pain that is characterized by sore throats and mouth blisters. Do this as often as you can.
What is the outlook for people with hand, foot, and mouth disease?
You or whoever has this infection should be completely okay within a period of 5 to 7 days post the first set of symptoms. Becoming re-infected is not common. The body normally fortifies the immune system against the virus responsible for the disease.
Contact a health professional as soon as symptoms begin to get out of hand or refrain from clearing up in within 10 days. In very rare cases, medical emergencies have been caused by coxsackievirus.
How can I prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Exercising good hygiene is the most effective way of protecting yourself against hand foot and mouth disease. Washing your hands regularly can reduce your chances of contracting the virus to a reasonable extent. Children should learn how to wash their hands with soap and hot water. After making use of the restroom, after they come out from public and before eating, hands ought to be washed. Children should equally be taught how they ought to keep their hands and other objects away from their mouth.
Regular disinfection of common areas in the home is also important. Develop the habit of wiping shared surfaces, using soap and water first then followed with a bleach and water solution that has been properly diluted. Also, you should disinfect pacifiers, toys, as well as any other objects that could contain traces of the virus.
If your child or you experiences symptoms like sore throat or fever, stay away from work or school. Try avoiding contact with people when rashes and blisters become visible. This is necessary to stop the disease from spreading to other people.