A SORE throat, loss of appetite and a high temperature are all signs of hand, foot and mouth disease.
It's a common childhood illness – but can also affect adults.
One couple described how they were trapped in their hotel room like "prisoners" after their children caught the disease on holiday. But what exactly is it?
What is hand, food and mouth disease?
Hand, food and mouth disease is a common infection.
It causes mouth ulcers and spots on the hands and feet.
Though children aged 10 and under are more likely to catch it, it can affect older children and adults as well.
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The infection is not related to foot and mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep and pigs.
What are the symptoms of hand, food and mouth disease?
Symptoms usually develop between three and five days after someone is exposed to the infection.
First symptoms include:
- High temperature
- General sense of feeling unwell
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Sore throat and mouth
Mouth ulcers: Red spots appear on the tongue and inside the mouth after one or two days. These can develop quickly into larger yellow-grey mouth ulcers with red edges. They can be painful and make eating, drinking and swallowing difficult. The ulcers usually pass within a week.
Spotty rashes and blisters: After mouth ulcers appear, a rash made up of small raised red spots may develop on the skin.They are usually found on the fingers, backs or palms of the hand and the soles of the feet. The spots may turn into blisters which have a grey centre. The spots and blisters can sometimes be itchy or uncomfortable and typically last up to 10 days.
How is hand, food and mouth disease treated?
There is no cure for hand, foot and mouth disease so you have to let it run its course.
The best thing to do is to stay at home until you are feeling better.
To help ease the symptoms you can:
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration – water and milk are ideal
- Eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, yogurt and soups if eating and swallowing is uncomfortable. Avoid hot, acidic or spicy foods and drinks.
- Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can ease a sore throat and fever.
- Gargling with warm, salty water can relieve discomfort from mouth ulcers or you can use mouth gels, rinses or sprays.
Children should be kept away from nursery or school until they are feeling better. Adults should stay away from work.
Medical attention is not usually needed unless:
- Your child is unable or unwilling to drink fluids
- Your child has signs of dehydration
- Your child develops fits, confusion or weakness.
- The symptoms are getting worse or have not improved after seven to 10 days.
Can adults get hand, foot and mouth?
People of any age can get it, including adults.
However, most adults will have had contact with the disease as a child and are immune.
In the UK, it’s most common in the late summer and early autumn.
Can hand, food and mouth disease be prevented?
It usually gets better on its own in 7 to 10 days.
However, there are a number of steps which can be taken to prevent hand, foot and mouth but the disease is not always possible to avoid.
- Using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Washing your hands with soap and water often
- Disinfect surfaces or objects which could be contaminated
- Wash any bedding or clothing which could be contaminated
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