You are on page 1of 2

COMMON CONDITIONS: INFECTIOUS DISEASES

27

Rubella
Rubella (German measles) is a contagious viral illness that is now uncommon due to immunization. Usually, it causes little more than a mild red rash that spreads from the face to the body. Often there are no symptoms. A child may start with a mild fever, swollen glands, and a runny nose 23 weeks after contact with the infection. Adults may also have a headache and joint pain. The main risk of rubella is that it can harm the fetus if a woman contracts the virus in pregnancy, particularly in the early months.
WARNING

Contact your doctor immediately if:


G You are pregnant and suspect you may have been in contact with someone who has rubella

See your doctor first


Arrange to see your doctor if you suspect that you have rubella. Check when to attend the office, because of the risk of infecting a woman who is pregnant.

DRUG REMEDIES Analgesics will help bring down a fever and relieve headache and joint pain.
G For a child, give acetaminophen (see p.177) or ibuprofen (see p.185). Make sure you ask your pharmacist to recommend a product for your child. G Adults can take acetaminophen (see p.177) or ibuprofen (see p.185).

What you can do yourself


When there are symptoms, they are often so mild they need little or no treatment. The rash does not itch and disappears within a few days. Take an analgesic to reduce fever and relieve headache and joint pain (see DRUG REMEDIES, right).
G G G

PREVENTION Immunization against rubella is given as


part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.
G Make sure your child has the full recommended series of MMR immunizations. G An attack of rubella also confers immunity, but if you plan to become pregnant, have your immunity checked first, even if you have had rubella. Make sure you are immunized, if necessary, before you conceive.

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

As soon as you think that you have rubella, avoid contact with anyone who might be pregnant. Rubella is infectious for about 7 days before the rash develops and for about 5 days afterward.

Seek further medical advice


Arrange to see your doctor if you develop:
G G

Immunity check A simple blood test will establish your immunity to rubella.

Headache or drowsiness Joint pain or sore eyes

28

COMMON CONDITIONS: INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Mononucleosis
Mononucleosis is a viral illness that most commonly affects teenagers and young adults. Mainly spread by kissing, sneezing, coughing, and by sharing cups and glasses, it takes 37 weeks to incubate. The symptoms are a sore throat, fever, and loss of appetite and energy that persist for more than a week or two. You may also have swollen glands in your neck and sometimes in your groin and under your arms, and a headache. Mononucleosis is not usually serious, and there is no specific medical treatment for it. Recovery can take 46 weeks, but you may feel tired for several months.

See your doctor first


Arrange to see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and check for complications.

DRUG REMEDIES Analgesics relieve fever and pain. Take


acetaminophen (see p.177) or ibuprofen (see p.185).

Mouth and throat treatments

What you can do yourself


Get plenty of rest while your immune system is fighting the virus, and use these simple measures to make yourself more comfortable.
G If you are feeling tired, rest. You may need to stay in bed for the first few days of the illness. G

(see p.187) can provide temporary relief from a sore throat. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water to make a soothing gargle. Lozenges containing benzocaine help numb a sore throat. Some mouth and throat treatments are not suitable for children; ask your pharmacist for advice.

Take an analgesic (see DRUG REMEDIES, right) to reduce fever and discomfort. If you have a high temperature, wear lightweight clothes and put a fan in your room.

NATURAL REMEDIES Healthy diet Eaten as part of a balanced diet,


certain nutrients are believed to help support the immune system. Boost your diet with lean meat; oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring; fresh fruit; leafy and dark green vegetables; wheat germ; walnuts; sunflower seeds; and flaxseed.
Benefits of fruit Fresh fruit is a good source of many of the vitamins that are needed to fight infection.

Drink plenty of water and fruit juices to avoid becoming dehydrated. Warm drinks will help soothe a painful throat.
G G Try gargling with warm salt water or you could use an analgesic gargle or spray (see DRUG REMEDIES, right).

Eating healthy foods may help support your immune system (see NATURAL REMEDIES, right).
G G Take steps to reduce stress while you are ill and during your recovery (see pp.2021). G Mononucleosis can affect your liver, so dont drink alcohol until you have fully recovered. G Dont take part in contact sports or other strenuous activities while you are ill and for about 23 weeks after recovery. G Stay away from school or work until your fever has gone and your strength and appetite are back to normal.

Seek further medical advice


Arrange to see your doctor urgently if you begin to develop: Difficulty breathing or swallowing Severe headache and a stiff neck G Chest or abdominal pain
G G