What Complications May Occur in Measles?

Measles occurs due to infection by measles virus. The virus grows/multiplies in the nose and throat. If an infected person sneeze, cough or talks it produces droplets containing measles virus and when someone inhales this infected droplets from air, he/she may develop measles, unless immune to it by vaccination or by previous infection. Infected droplets may also be dropped to the surface, where the virus may remain alive for several hours and remain infective. One may also get measles infection by touching the infected droplets with hands and putting your hands in mouth, e.g. while eating something without washing your hands properly.

What are the possible complications after measles infection?

Measles may lead to various complications. The risk of complications may be higher, if measles occurs at older age, in compare to measles among children. Measles may lead to following complications,

  • Encephalitis: 1 in every 1000 measles patients may develop encephalitis or inflammation of brain. This can cause vomiting, convulsions, and in rare cases, coma and death can occur. Encephalitis may start even months after original measles infection. This is a serious complication and need prompt treatment.
  • Pneumonia is a possible complication of measles, especially if the patient have weak immunity. Death is possible from pneumonia due to measles among immune compromised patients.
  • Ear infection is one of the commonest complication that can be expected after measles, due to measles.
  • Measles can cause bronchitis (inflammation of the inner walls of bronchial tubes) and inflammation of vocal cord (voice box) leading to voice problems.
  • Low platelet counts or thrombocytopenia can occur after measles. This may cause excess bleeding, because low platelet count interfere with clotting of blood.
  • If one get measles infection during pregnancy, it may lead to preterm labor, low birth weight babies or abortion. This is why it is very important to prevent measles during pregnancy.

How measles is diagnosed?

For diagnosis of measles, your doctor will simply find Koplik’s spot, which occur only in measles and in no other disease. Hence, presence of Koplik’s spot with fever, rash and other common symptoms is diagnostic of measles. Koplik’s spot is a small, bluish-white spot on a bright red background on the inside lining of the cheek. If there is any doubt, your doctor may confirm diagnosis of measles by blood tests.


Image courtesy of [tuelekza] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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