Measles: Warning signs your child is developing serious complications

Published on Nov 29, 2022 05:03 PM IST

Measles can take a dangerous turn and in such cases, children may need immediate hospitalisation. Here are signs that your child has developed serious mealses complications.

Measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous especially for babies and young children(Shutterstock)
Measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous especially for babies and young children(Shutterstock)
By, New Delhi

Measles outbreak in Mumbai has affected many children and has claimed lives of 12 kids in Mumbai and the surrounding areas. As the cases continue to rise, one must carefully monitor the symptoms and if you feel your child's symptoms are getting serious, immediate hospitalisation should be considered. Measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous especially for babies and young children. While measles can be prevented with a vaccine, low vaccination coverage during pandemic has reportedly led to the current spike in cases. While the death rates have seen a significant decline worldwide as more and more children receive measles vaccine, still more than 200,000 people, mostly children die every year. (Also read: Measles outbreak: How to protect your child from measles; expert offers tips)

Mealses: How it begins, common symptoms to watch out for

"The disease typically begins with high fever (may spike to more than 104o), runny nose, sore throat, discharge or mucus in eyes, fatigue, red eyes (bloodshot), sneezing, tender glands and puffy eyelids. Other common symptoms include enlarged or swollen glands, decreased appetite, tiny red spots called Koplik’s spots found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek and a skin rash made up of large, flat blotches flowing into one another. Measles rash appears 3 to 5 days after the occurrence of first symptoms," says Dr. Sumit Chakravarty, Sr. Consultant – Paediatrics & Neonatology & Head - NICU, Asian Hospital Faridabad.

Dr Krishan Chugh, Principal Director and head of department of paediatrics, Fortis Memorial Research Institute says while in normal healthy children, measles is generally an illness of fever with rash lasting for 7-10 days, occasionally, in malnourished (especially vitamin A deficiency), immune deficient, unvaccinated and chronically ill children, this infection can acquire a dangerous form.

Signs that your child's measles has turned serious

Dr Chugh lists danger signs of measles that require immediate hospitalisation:

High fever, fast breathing

"Very high fever (103-104F), incessant crying, fast breathing and inability to feed are signs suggestive of pneumonia (severe disease). Such children should be treated in the hospital with oxygen and other appropriate measures," says Dr Chugh.

Croaky sound during breathing

"Another respiratory complication of measles is croup. In this disorder the child has difficulty in breathing along with a croaky sound during inspiration. It may progress on to a level where oxygen inhalation and specific medicines to reopen the constricted airway are required in a hospital setting," says the expert.

Severe diarrhoea

"Profuse diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to dehydration which may require hospitalisation and intravenous fluid administration," says Dr Chugh.

Sleeping too much

"Over sleepiness, stupor and unconsciousness indicate involvement of the brain by the virus (encephalitis). Such children have to be treated in hospital or even ICU to save their lives. Encephalitis has a mortality of more than 10%. Some of the survivors from this dreadful complication of measles may be left with neurological deficits which may be permanent," says Dr Chugh.

Early recognition and treatment of severe measles can save lives.

"Vitamin A supplementation should be given to all children diagnosed with measles to prevent blindness from damage to the eyes. Vitamin A supplementation also reduces severity of measles and resultant deaths. Young infants, especially those less than 9 months age are the most vulnerable to severe disease and mortality," says the expert.

Dr Chakravarty lists other important symptoms that should not be ignored:

1. People exposed to measles or have symptoms such as body rash and fever should see a doctor.

2. In rare cases, measles can lead to pneumonia or brain infection.

3. Get immediate medical help if the person with measles has a stiff neck, isn't breathing properly, or seems lethargic or confused.

4. Consult the doctor if the person is coughing up yellow or green phlegm, has not urinated in 10 hours, or has sore ears.

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