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What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease? Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease? Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The risk of transmitting some viral infections is high among children whose immune systems are not yet strong enough. This risk increases especially in public areas such as nurseries and schools. Hand, foot and mouth disease is also a common infection among children, but it can also infect adults. Adults may not show symptoms because their immunity is stronger. However, although it is a disease that generally shows mild symptoms in children, it can also cause serious illnesses.

What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

Sores called ulcers occur in or around the mouth. Apart from the mouth, it can also cause symptoms in the hands, feet and legs. It spreads through contact between adult patients and children. Cleanliness and good hygiene conditions have a significant positive impact on preventing disease. Good personal hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of hand-foot disease to others. The resulting red lesions look like blisters. If you come into contact with these blisters for any reason, you must wash your hands. People of all ages can get this disease, but children under 5 are more likely to get the disease. At the same time, the probability of transmission is higher in summer and autumn. The treatment period may last less than two weeks or longer. But it can cause serious problems such as meningitis in some children.

What are the Symptoms of Hand Foot Disease?

Symptoms begin to develop 3 to 6 days after the infection is acquired. During this period, the disease is still in its infancy. They usually start as small red spots in the back of the mouth that blister and can turn into ulcers. A red, mottled and sometimes blistering skin rash may also develop on the palms and soles of the palms and soles within a day or two; It can also be seen on the knees, elbows, hips or genital area. Not everyone shows all of these symptoms. Some people, especially adults, may have no symptoms but can still transmit the virus to others. After the onset of fever, characteristic blisters and rashes appear. The rash usually looks like flat red spots. Lesions can appear on all surfaces of the hands and feet. Very rarely, the virus can affect the lining of the brain and spinal cord, leading to more serious symptoms such as seizures, confusion, unsteadiness and weakness. Symptoms include:

  • increased fever
  • eating less food
  • Sore throat
  • Blistered sores in the mouth
  • skin rashes
  • Blisters on hands, feet and arms
  • Increased salivation
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What are the Causes of Hand Foot Disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral disease that causes infection by spreading through viruses. The virus that causes this disease is a virus called Coxsackievirus. Coxsackievirus is from a family of viruses called enteroviruses. In some cases, other types of enteroviruses can also cause this disease. These viruses normally spread through the mouth and anus. Viruses usually reside in the saliva, mucus, feces, and blister fluid of a person with hand-foot-mouth disease. Children under the age of 10, especially those under the age of 5, are at the highest risk of contracting this disease because the immune system has not yet developed the antibodies to fight the disease in many young children. At the same time, factors such as inadequate nutrition or having another disease can also affect immunity and make the person susceptible to disease.

Hand Foot Disease Contagion

Viruses can spread easily from person to person. Viruses that cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease are common and especially affect children with compromised immune systems. It can spread easily and quickly within the home, especially among children. Many adults, including pregnant women, have this disease, often without symptoms. Serious outbreaks can occur in child care and education settings. Generally, the first week of the disease is the most contagious period. However, people with the disease continue to spread the virus through their respiratory tract (nose, mouth and lungs) for 1-3 weeks after the infection begins, and in their feces for weeks. At the same time, the skin blisters that form are contagious until they become crusty and there is no fluid left in the blisters. The virus can be transmitted from person to person due to:

  • Sneeze
  • Cough
  • Saliva
  • mucus
  • Feces
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Hand Foot Disease Diagnosis

Doctors usually diagnose hand, foot and mouth disease through physical examination. The doctor looks at the patient’s characteristic features that distinguish this disease from other viral infections. The patient’s age is usually under 10 years old and symptoms include fever and sore throat. Within two or three days, smaller red sores than chickenpox appear in the mouth and then on the palms and soles of the feet. Sometimes, a laboratory test may be required to confirm this diagnosis. Doctors may look for relevant antibodies or viral material in the blood or send throat and stool samples to the laboratory for examination. When the doctor suspects meningitis in some seriously ill patients, he or she may perform a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) so that the spinal fluid can be examined in the laboratory.

Hand Foot Disease Treatment

If any of the symptoms are present, children, especially, should see a doctor urgently. At the same time, public areas should be avoided during the treatment process. There is no medication to treat or cure hand, foot and mouth disease. Therefore, the only thing parents can do is to reduce fever and pain under the supervision of a doctor. In children older than 1 year, doctors may prescribe various liquid mouth soothing medications to relieve mouth ulcer pain. At the same time, children with hand, foot and mouth disease need to consume plenty of fluids. The fluid inside the blisters should not be deliberately burst as they are contagious. Painful mouth sores can make some children reluctant to swallow liquids, so it’s important to make sure young children drink enough fluids. However, if there is long-term thirst, emergency intervention should prevent the dehydration problem that may occur.

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Ways to Prevent Hand and Foot Disease

There is no vaccine to prevent hand-foot disease. The virus may continue to be transmitted in feces for several weeks after the blisters have resolved. Personal hygiene is important to protect against this disease, as in every infectious disease. Children with hand, foot and mouth disease should be kept away from school until their blisters dry up and their rash and fever subside. During this period of distancing, they should also avoid activities and places where they will be in contact with others, such as playgrounds and courses, to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease. Hygiene is very important, especially during actions such as taking children to the toilet and changing diapers. If the same house is shared with a person with hand-foot disease, separate eating and drinking bowls should be used, personal hygiene materials and clothing should not be shared. Dirty clothes, surfaces and toys must be cleaned. What needs to be done to protect yourself is as follows:

  • Hands should be washed after going to the toilet.
  • Water should not be drunk from the same glass or bottle.
  • Personal hygiene materials should not be shared.
  • When sneezing, use your arm or a tissue instead of your hand.
  • Hands should be washed before and after eating.

It may not be easy to protect yourself from diseases common among children, but hygiene education is very important during this period. If children experience fever and red bumps, they should seek support from a health institution as soon as possible. At the same time, they should be prevented from interacting with people during this process.

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