Children ages three to ten commonly contract herpangina, but the infection may occur at any age. Once you get infected with a certain strain of coxsackievirus, you will generally be immune from that particular strain. Other strains may still cause you to have an infection. Herpangina infections usually occur in the summer and fall, with cases peaking from August to October.
The illness, which lasts from three to six days, is usually accompanied by high fever. A few hours prior the onset of the fever, children usually lose their appetite and energy. Mouth blisters appear at the same time as the fever or a few hours after it. On the average, children contract around five blisters. These mouth blisters are enclosed by red rings. They may be found on the tongue, inside the cheeks, on the roof of the mouth, on the uvula, on the tonsils, or at the back of the throat. The blisters usually begin as tiny red spots that eventually open to become ulcers. Other symptoms include headache, sore throat, runny nose, backache, vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea.
If you suspect that you or your child has herpangina, consult your doctor. He/she will diagnose you based on your medical history and the physical exam that he/she will conduct. The doctor will rule out other similar-looking diseases, such as adenovirus and strep throat. Laboratory tests are available for the viruses that cause herpangina, but they are usually not needed. No further tests are normally done. The doctor will then prescribe the appropriate treatment plan.
Antibiotics are not of much help in relieving the person from herpangina. What will help is the increased intake of fluids, especially cold dairy products. Having a non-irritating diet that will not aggravate mouth sores also help. Avoid drinking fruit juices that are too acidic. If you have a fever and are experiencing discomfort, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also apply topical anesthetics, such as those that contain xylocaine or benzocaine, in order to provide relief from pain.
Herpangina usually clears up within seven days and no complications follow it in general. However, if your condition has not improved and if you are experiencing the following, call your doctor immediately: sore throat, fever, and mouth blisters or sores that have not cleared up within five days, trouble with eating and drinking, and very high fever that does not subside.
Herpangina may be prevented by practicing good hygiene. The coxscackieviruses and enteroviruses are found in stool and respiratory secretions. They are transmitted through direct skin contact, touching your mouth with unclean hands, getting in contact with respiratory secretions, and fomites – virus-carrying inanimate objects.
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