While the spread of AIDS in the western world has slowed, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the risk is gone. AIDS came on the scene in the United States in the early 1980’s and was a terminal disease for virtually anyone who was infected during that time. Fortunately, the disease is much more manageable these days, and instead of being considered terminal, it is largely considered a chronic disease that people can live with for decades. Although AIDS is much easier to manage now, the risk of contracting the disease is still very real. AIDS is still passed from person to person primarily though sexual contact, making condom use and other preventive measures as important as ever. The following are common signs and symptoms that may indicate infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The body’s reaction to the invasion of the virus is to try to ward it off by raising body temperature. The fever is usually relatively mild, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as sore throat, swollen glands and and fatigue. These symptoms are a lot like the ones someone might experience after coming down with the flu. A number of people have compared these symptoms to the worst flu they have ever experienced.
The fatigue brought on by AIDS may be quite serious and hard to dismiss. People can go from being energetic and very active, fit individuals to someone who has problems walking up a single flight of stairs. Some people become so fatigued that even walking a short distance can cause them to feel out-of-breath. As the body’s immune system tries to fight the virus, inflammation often results, and leads to increased susceptibility to feeling tired and lethargic.
3. Skin rash
4. Digestive problems
Problems with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea could accompany the infection in the early stages. Between 30 and 60 percent of infected individuals experience these symptoms. For some people, some of the treatments used for AIDS may also cause these symptoms or also may be the result of an opportunistic infection when it occurs in the later stages of the disease.
5. Weight loss
Unexplained and sometimes drastic weight loss is a very common symptom of AIDS, and usually occurs in the later stages of the infection. The weight loss could be partially a result of the severe diarrhea that may occur. The weight loss is often unrelenting and even continues for people who have a normal diet. Weight loss often shows up in the later stages of the disease.
6. Dry cough
This may be one of the first signs that someone has contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The cough will often persist for months, and does not respond to the usual treatments like inhalers, antibiotics, Benadryl, and other common medications used to treat allergies.
7. Opportunistic infections
Since AIDS attacks and weakens the immune system, infected individuals are at risk of contracting a number of different infections that will invade the body with little resistance. Some of the most common infections that strike immunosuppressed individuals include pneumonia, yeast infections, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus, which is a type of Herpes infection.
8. Night sweats
Around half of the people who have contracted HIV will develop night sweats, which can be quite profuse and result in soaked sheets and bedclothes. While around half of infected individuals experience this during the early stages of the infection, it is even more common in the later stages as the disease progresses.
9. Cognitive impairment
Usually a symptom that shows up later in the progression of the infection, some people may experience confusion and difficulty concentrating. More serious signs such as dementia may interfere with the ability to remember things or result in irritability or even anger issues. Sometimes motor function can also be adversely impacted making the person more prone to clumsiness and lack of coordination.
10. Weakness and tingling in the extremities
Also a symptom of untreated diabetes, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet might also become evident as the disease results in damage to nerves. Weakness in the extremities may accompany these symptoms, and treatments such as anti-seizure medications and pain killers may help alleviate these symptoms.