Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
As disgusting as it sounds, hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood disease. It is a viral disease that causes lesions and sores in the mouth and on the hands, feet and, sometimes, the buttocks and legs. The mouth sores can be extremely painful and make it hard for the sufferer to eat. Although the disease can have very painful symptoms, it is not serious and generally goes away in about a week. Hand, foot, and mouth disease can occur at any time of the year but is most common during the summer and fall. Although the name of this disease sounds much like foot and mouth disease, the two are completely different. Foot and mouth disease only occurs in animals. If your child is suffering from hand, foot, and mouth disease take them to see your physician, but do not worry, the disease is fairly harmless and should clear up in a matter of days.
Causes of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a viral infection. The virus is spread by easily through coughing and sneezing, as well as coming in contact with infected fecal matter. Often the disease breaks out within a community because of it is so easy to spread. Children are most likely to spread the disease during the first several days of infection. The virus stays in stool and can be transmitted for months after the symptoms have subsided. Because of this take precautions while changing your child’s diaper. Wear gloves and be sure to wash your hands after you finish. The disease has a three to six day incubation period after exposure.
The first symptom of this disease is usually exhaustion. After that, your child will likely begin complaining of a sore throat and have a fever of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Several days after the first symptoms, severe blisters may materialize on your child’s hands, feet, and, sometimes, legs and buttocks. In some cases your child may present with a rash before the blisters disappear. The blisters may break and crust over. They generally are gone within a week.
Treatment for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease generally does not require treatment. Most cases go away in seven to ten days. There are several easy home care methods you can employ to help ease your child’s suffering while waiting for the disease to subside. Offer your child plenty of cold fluids. Frozen treats like ice pops and ice cream may help as well. Do not give you child acidic or spicy foods such as salsa or orange juice. Foods such as these can irritate the mouth and throat sores causing pain. For pain and fever, give your child over the counter medications, like Tylenol or Motrin.
Containing Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
To contain hand, foot, and mouth disease, wash your hands. It is especially important to wash your hands after you change the diaper of an infected child. This is because the virus may stay in the stool for several months after the blisters heal.
I know from experience that hand, foot, and mouth disease is awful. I was unlucky enough to avoid contracting the disease as a child and instead catch it as an adult. It is excruciatingly painful. The sores in your mouth and throat make eating, and even drinking, almost impossible. I have broken bones, had a root canal and I would have to say that this was the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. The pain is constant and does not respond to normal pain medications like Tylenol or Motrin. If you child is unlucky enough to contract this disease the best thing you can do is attempt to keep them comfortable until the symptoms subside. I found that water was the only liquid I could drink without doubling over in pain. Definitely avoid giving them drinks like soda or any citrus. My symptoms lasted roughly a week. It was nearly impossible to eat, but I was able to tough through some yogurt and other foods that were easy on my sores. If your child is sick, make them eat. It will hurt, but they need to eat healthy to get healthy. Finally, wash your hands. Believe me, you do not want to contract this disease.
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