Humans are definitely not the only creature to ever live on this earth. Microorganisms that could not be seen with the naked eyes certainly are alive and able to infect humans causing diseases. In the world of medicine, there are many kinds of infections that could affect humans in many ways. One of the infections known as herpangina may not be familiar to most people but it is actually quite a common disease. In this article, we will be learning more about herpangina.
Herpangina is an infection caused by a virus and characterised by small blisters or ulcers in the mouth. The viruses responsible for herpangina are known as coxsackieviruses and occasionally other enteroviruses. The virus usually spreads through respiratory droplets, saliva or directly touching fluid from sores. It is also spread from touching stool. The way the virus spreads makes herpangina one of the highly contagious diseases. Herpangina has been reported worldwide with the usual occurrence during the rainy seasons in countries with tropical climates.
Herpangina is likely to affect children more than adults. It is frequent to see herpangina affect children younger than 10 years old. Herpangina is almost similar to another condition known as hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) which is also caused by enteroviruses. Herpangina easily affects children as their immune system is not as established as adults do. This explains why adults rarely experience herpangina due to the established immune body system producing already built antibodies to fight the virus. HFMD and herpangina may seem to be similar at a glance due to the presence of oral blisters or ulcers but the locations of sores are different.
Symptoms of herpangina are usually the ulcers or blisters in the mouth, typically at the back of the throat and roof of the mouth. Common symptoms such as sudden high fever, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, neck pain, back pain and drooling are common in children with herpangina. In some cases, it could lead to children with abdominal pain, vomiting, dehydration and seizures. It can be so severe that it begins to cause breathing difficulty, confusion and muscle weakness. Symptoms usually show up around 2 to 5 days after exposure to the virus.
It is important for parents to make sure their child gets checked with doctors whenever any symptoms of herpangina are experienced. Although herpangina itself rarely does not cause severe disease, it is the symptoms that could lead to other serious health issues such as dehydration and seizures triggered by fever. It is not to say herpangina is not dangerous at all because children with compromised immune system can have high risk for serious life-threatening disease such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the protective membrane covering brain and spinal cord) and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Treating children with herpangina can greatly improve the child’s mood and help to improve their health in general.
There is no cure for herpangina as there is no antiviral medications available to eradicate the viruses responsible for herpangina. The good news is, herpangina does go away on itself at least a week after symptoms are presented. This is because the human’s immune system is capable of eliminating the disease. Thus, treatments available aim to alleviate symptoms. Pain-relief medication and fever relief such as acetaminophen can help reduce pain and fever. Topical anaesthetics in forms of gel or creams may be prescribed by doctors to relieve the sores and throat pain. Mouth sprays or mouth rinse can relieve the sore pain apart from using throat lozenges. Just make sure that if a person is deciding to get sore throat or sore mouth medication over-the-counter ensure that the child will not choke on it and the product itself is age-appropriate. Saltwater rinse can be an option for improving the sores. Ask a pharmacist or doctor regarding this.
Beside medication, making sure that the child does drink plenty of water is essential. The child also needs to eat healthy food and non-irritated food. Foods such as hot, fried, spicy, salted, sour or citrusy can definitely aggravate the sore and ulcers. Hence, opt for soothing food such as dairy and non-citrus fruits such as bananas. If parents are faced with problems making sure their child gets hydrated and/or eats properly, they should get medical advice urgently. Last but not least, isolate the child with herpangina especially when they are still sick. This can prevent further infections to others.
In essence, herpangina is a disease caused by viruses. The differences with HFMD and herpangina lies in the fact that herpangina only cause mouth sores whereas HFMD do have mouth sores and many more sores on the soles of feet and their palms. It is best for parents to get their child checked by doctors whenever the child shows any symptoms of herpangina. The best way to prevent herpangina is to practise proper hand-washing and to practise good cough or sneezing etiquette of covering the nose and mouth.