Chicken pox is a communicable disease which mostly affects children. It is caused by exposure to the varicella zoster virus. Children between the ages of 1 and 10 are normally afflicted by this airborne viral infection.
However, a very small percentage of adults (10 percent of all adults), also suffer from the ill effects of chicken pox every year.
School going children, who live in temperate climes, are the ones who are most likely to catch the dreaded varicella zoster virus. Once afflicted, a child or adult may suffer from the classic symptoms associated with chicken pox anywhere between 10 and 21 days.
Symptoms of Chicken Pox
A person can get infected by the varicella zoster virus in two ways. One way of contracting chicken pox is through direct contact with a person already suffering from this disease. A person may also get chicken pox indirectly, when they touch the infected person’s clothes, or other personal articles.
After initial exposure to the varicella zoster virus, a person may start exhibiting a host of symptoms. The classic symptoms of chicken pox appear three days after a person becomes infected by the varicella zoster virus. Some common symptoms of this infectious disease have been described below.
Children and adults alike, who have been infected by the varicella zoster virus, complain of general weariness or malaise. Individuals complain of extreme tiredness or lethargy. This feeling of extreme tiredness is more pronounced in adults than in young children.
One of the first symptoms of chicken pox is fever. Chicken pox fever is typically a low grade fever which does not cross 102 degree Farenheit. However, if the fever crosses 102 degree Farenheint, the patient should receive immediate medical care.
After initial exposure to the varicella virus, a person may notice an itchy rash appear on their upper body. This rash appears on the scalp, the face and the trunk. The red rash which initially appears on the upper body is often accompanied by tiny red blisters. After the initial rash, small spots start to appear inside the mouth, then the nose and the ears.
The red blisters give way to scabs, which fall off in about ten days after the initial onset of the rash.
Soon after the appearance of the initial rash a person who is suffering from chicken pox may complain of mild but persistent headache. The headache starts a day (24 hours) after the initial appearance of the chicken pox rash. If the initial mild headache gives way to a progressively painful headache it can be indicative of the fact that the patient is suffering from encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
Some people complain of an upset stomach as well. Normally the upset stomach caused by chicken pox is extremely mild.
Cough, Shortness of Breadth and Chest Pain
Other symptoms associated with chicken include a persistent cough, the feeling of breathlessness and rapid breathing. Sometimes these normal respiratory problems associated with chicken pox can turn into life threatening complications including pneumonia. The chances of developing chicken pox related pneumonia is significantly higher in adult patients than in children who have been afflicted with this disease.
Adults who have contracted chicken pox often complain of severe chest pain as well. This chest pain can be due to the heart muscles becoming inflamed.
Seizures, back pain and severe abdominal pain are some of the other ordinary symptoms associated with chicken pox.