Herpangina is a viral infection that causes canker sores accompanied by pain in the mouth. This disease generally attacks and spreads quickly to children, but it can also attack adults, especially those with weak immune systems.

Herpangina is often confused with the Singapore flu . This is because the two diseases are most often caused by the same type of enterovirus group, namely the Coxsackie virus .

However, these two diseases are different. Herpangina only causes canker sores in the mouth, while Singapore flu causes canker sores in the mouth, as well as sores on the hands and feet.

Herpangina Causes and Risk Factors

Herpangina is most often caused by infection with Coxsackievirus A, which belongs to the enterovirus group. Apart from Coxsackievirus A, herpangina can also be caused by Coxsackievirus B, Echovirus and Enterovirus 71 viruses.

Herpangina is an infectious disease. The virus that causes herpangina can live in nose and throat fluids, saliva, feces, and fluids from wounds. Therefore, transmission can occur when:

  • Make direct contact with people with herpangina, for example by sharing eating or drinking utensils
  • Inhaling splashes of saliva when the patient is sneezing or coughing
  • Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching the patient's stool, without washing your hands properly
  • Touching a contaminated object, then touching your eyes, nose and mouth, without washing your hands

Herpangina can happen to anyone. However, children aged 3–10 years are more at risk of suffering from this disease. Apart from that, herpangina can also get worse if it is suffered by:

  • Newborn baby
  • Patients with immune system disorders
  • Pregnant mother

Symptoms of Herpangina

Symptoms of herpangina appear 3–5 days after a person is infected with the virus that causes it. The type of symptoms can vary, depending on the type of virus that infects. In some cases, herpangina doesn't even cause any symptoms at all.

Some of the symptoms of herpangina that sufferers can experience are:

  • Painful canker sores on the roof of the mouth, back of the throat, tonsils, tongue, and uvula (the organ that hangs in the middle of the roof of the mouth)
  • Sudden high fever
  • Sore throat
  • Saliva coming out of the mouth (drooling )
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fussy

When to go to the doctor

Check with your doctor if you or your child feel the onset of canker sores accompanied by pain and discomfort, especially if you have previously had contact with someone who has herpangina.

You also need to see a doctor immediately if you experience the following conditions:

  • Difficulty drinking or eating
  • High fever for more than 5 days
  • Thrush more than 1 week
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 1 day
  • Symptoms of dehydration , such as weakness, dizziness, dark urine or less frequent urination, dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness

Diagnosis of Herpangina

To diagnose herpangina, the doctor will ask questions and answers about the patient's symptoms and medical history, as well as the patient's travel history. After that, the doctor will do a thorough physical examination, including looking at the canker sores that arise.

In mild cases, a physical examination alone is sufficient to diagnose herpangina. However, in more severe cases, doctors can carry out investigations to detect the virus that causes herpangina. These checks include:

  • Throat and nose swab test ( swab test )
  • Blood test
  • Urine test
  • Stool examination

Herpangina Treatment

Herpangina treatment aims to relieve symptoms and speed up the healing process. The method used by the doctor will be adjusted to the patient's age, medical history, and the severity of the infection.

To reduce pain and relieve fever, the doctor will give paracetamol or ibuprofen. Apart from that, the doctor can also give lozenges to soothe the throat.

Apart from medication, patients can also do a number of things at home to speed up the healing process. Some efforts that can be done are:

  • Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Avoid consuming food or drinks that can cause sores to the throat, such as foods that are too hot, sour, or sweet
  • Rinse the mouth with salt water
  • Eat cold foods to relieve swallowing pain, such as cold milk, ice cream, or yogurt

Herpangina complications

In mild cases, herpangina can be resolved within 1 week. While severe herpangina can cause complications, although they are very rare. Some of the complications are:

  • Dehydration
  • Weak muscles
  • Seizure
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle ( myocarditis )

Prevention of Herpangina

The best way that can be done to prevent herpangina is to maintain personal hygiene and the surrounding environment. Some things that can be done are:

  • Wash your hands regularly , especially before and after eating or preparing food
  • Do not share eating or drinking utensils with others
  • Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Clean the surface of objects that can be a medium for transmitting viruses , such as children's toys, banisters and door knobs
  • Rest at home and do not travel anywhere if you have herpangina symptoms
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