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HIV/AIDS: Top 5 Symptoms

Monday, 21 Mar 2011 12:24 PM

HIV cannot be diagnosed by HIV/AIDS signs and symptoms alone. There are some symptoms of HIV and AIDS that occur through the course of the disease, which are typical of the clinical stages that the patient is going through. The world Health Organization (WHO) has classified clinical stages depending on HIV/AIDS signs and symptoms. These stages are used to initiate treatment in resource poor settings where detailed clinical tests are not possible. HIV infection basically has four stages: incubation period, acute infection, latency stage, and AIDS.

The initial incubation period upon infection is asymptomatic and usually lasts two to four weeks. This stage is devoid of HIV symptoms.

The second stage, acute infection, lasts for two to three weeks and the symptoms of HIV during this stage are similar to the symptoms of  the common flu. Quite often, HIV symptoms are mistakenly diagnosed as that of the flu.

The common five second stage HIV symptoms are: fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, tiredness and weakness, and muscle pain. Muscular pain may be accompanied by a rash and soreness in the mouth and throat.

The latency stage is the third stage and shows few or no symptoms. It can last from two weeks to 20 years and beyond.

AIDS, the fourth and final stage of the HIV infection, shows symptoms of opportunistic infections. The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of conditions that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. Most of the conditions are infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These infections are normally controlled by the immune system that in the fourth stage is affected by HIV.

The five most common symptoms of people with AIDS are systemic symptoms of infections including: unexplained chronic fevers lasting over a month, unexplained chronic diarrhea lasting for over a month, weight loss greater than 10 percent of the body weight when no attempt of weight loss or dieting has been made, sweats (particularly at night) in the absence of malaria and when the ambient temperature is not hot, and pulmonary symptoms that include cough and breathlessness.

Other common symptoms include swollen glands, chills, weakness, and white patches on the tongue, mouth, and throat. The specific opportunistic infections that AIDS patients develop depend, in part, on the prevalence of the infections in the geographic area where the patient lives. As soon as the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS are seen, consult a physician. Tests must be carried out to examine the affected person’s immunity and enable the doctor to administer anti-HIV medication.

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