WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO TO OVERCOME IT
Measles is a viral infection and is also known as rubeola.It is a childhood infection and can be serious and even fatal for children; however, adults are just as susceptible to catching the virus.
Measles is a highly contagious virus found throughout the world. People get measles by breathing in the measles virus that is spread when the infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Yep! You can catch measles virus just by being in the same room with an infected person.
Measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine. However, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of 5. Some parts of the world have completely eliminated measles outbreak and have not had any reported cases in years.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
Measles’ signs and symptoms usually appear around 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms typically include:
- Dry cough
- Sore through
- Conjunctivitis / Inflamed eyes
- A skin rash made up of large, red, flat blotches
This infection takes its time manifesting in the body and its symptoms appear in stages:
- Infection & Incubation: For the first 10 to 14 days after the infection is contracted, the measles virus incubates in the body. At this time the body does not display any signs or symptoms of measles.
- Nonspecific Signs & Symptoms: One of the first signs is a mild fever, often accompanied by persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, and sore throat. These symptoms last 2 to 3 days before taking on a more intense form.
- Acute illness: The rash appears as small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Clusters of spots and bumps give the skin a splotchy red appearance. The rash starts out on the face and then over the next few days spreads down the arms, trunk, thighs, lower legs and feet. At the same time, the fever rises sharply, sometimes as high as 104º and 106º.
Once the recovery begins, the rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet.
WHAT IS THE COMMUNICABLE PERIOD OF MEASLES
Measles is a highly contagious virus and can be easily communicated to those around. People who have contracted the disease in the past, or have been vaccinated are unlikely to contract it the second time, though it is not impossible. A compromised immune system is often the reason behind contraction of the virus.
A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about a duration of 8 days—4 days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for 4 days. After that it is relatively safe to be around the infected person granted the environment is clean and their surroundings—such as the bedding, towels, clothing—have been cleaned and the room has been aired out and disinfected.
I will divide the causes into 2 categories:
External causes: Measles is caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected person. Then, when that person coughs, sneezes, or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where others can inhale them.
If these infected droplets land on a surface such as a table or a plate, they remain active and contagious for several hours. Anyone touching these infected surfaces and then putting those hands in their mouth, nose or eyes, can contract the virus.
About 90% of susceptible people who are exposed to an infected person will be infected.
Internal Causes: Measles, albeit very dangerous, is still a virus. Our body is naturally equipped to fight off intruders like bacteria and virus, unless it runs out of energy to fight off these intruders. So, the real internal cause of contracting any virus is this lack of ‘energy’ or immunity.
What causes this?
Weak Immune System: I have discussed this topic in detail in the article “Can You Hack Your Immune System & Reset It?” In brief, our immune system is the defense mechanism of our body. It protects our bodies from unwanted and harmful intruders ranging from common allergens and influenza virus, to more dangerous kind like measles and mumps. The stronger the immune system, the better equipped it is to keep your body protected and healthy.
On the other hand, if the immune system is weakened and compromised, then even the most common allergens can wreak havoc on the body. This is why I consider a weak immune system to be the first and most important internal cause of measles, and all other infections. Definitely check out the article I mentioned to get an in-depth understanding on how to keep yourself and your family protected by developing a strong immune system.
“Stressor-free” Environment: This is one of the reasons of immune system health, however, I believe it is so important that it needs to be mentioned independently. Stressors are anything and everything that trigger a response from our immune system. These could be different for different people like those who are allergic to peanuts can get an immune response triggered when they consume peanuts whereas it doesn’t bother others.
However, there are certain stressors in the environment which are generally harmful to our health. These are usually environmental factors and can overtime weigh down our system and compromise our well-being. Think of the difference between the health of people living in crowded cities and those living in a mountain village and what I am saying will begin to make sense.
Some of the most common stressors for our bodies are…
- lack of proper nutrition
- air quality
- water quality
- smoke inhalation
- heavy metal exposure
- chemical exposure
being among the few.
Not to underestimate emotional and mental stressors like…
- increasing living costs
- low self-esteem
- fast paced lifestyle
being just a few of them.
The cleaner the environment, the less stress will be on our immune system, and the better our health will be. That is why the healthiest people are often those living closer to nature and keeping a minimalist lifestyle.
Now, going back to Measles…
If not treated properly, measles patients can develop secondary complications. Some of the most common complications include:
- Bacterial ear infection
- Bronchitis, laryngitis, or croup
- Pregnancy problems including low birth weight, preterm labor, and even maternal death
More than the virus, it is often the complications which prove to be fatal.
Now, that I have terrified you enough with the severity of the virus and it can do, let’s talk about prevention. I am a big believer of the good ol’ saying: “prevention is better than cure.”
If someone in your household has measles, take these precautions to protect vulnerable family members, especially children and elderly.
- Isolation: Measles are highly contagious especially from 4 days before to 4 days after the appearance of rash. They should not interact with other people, and be in isolation as much as possible. It is best that only 1 or 2 adults, preferably those who have had exposure to the virus before, take care of the sick individual. If possible, remove other children from the house for this duration.
- Bedding, clothing, and towels are regularly cleaned and disinfected. They should be washed alone.
- Separate the dishes and utensils which the person is using.
- Keep them in a well-ventilated area, preferably where there is cross-breeze; unless it is winter.
- Use an air filter in the room.
- Feed them nutritious but light meals such as bone broth, vegetable juices, congee etc.
- Vaccination: Vaccination has become a very controversial topic in recent times. We certainly cannot deny the role of vaccines in eradicating some life-threatening diseases which claimed thousands of lives. Two things have changed in recent years:
- the amount of vaccines being given to young babies has increased
- the effects of preservative in the vaccines have become drastic
Meanwhile, make sure to do the following with the infected person:
This is what fuels the agitation against vaccines. It is a reasonable fear for many parents from simply the point of view of having increasing number of unknown chemicals being inserted into their children’s bodies. Add to that the widely publicized studies which are claiming a correlation between preservative used in vaccines and autism.
I can’t tell you what you should choose for your children. What I will say is that you should choose wisely. You need to study this topic deeply and discuss it with both your doctor and Natural Healthcare practitioners.
I would suggest you look into:
- minimum amount of vaccines recommended in your region
- homeopathic / alternative vaccines which are free from dangerous preservatives
- spacing out the time between vaccines given to your child
REMEDY & CURE
Measles is a virus and like all viruses it has a lifespan after which it dies its natural death. There is no ‘cure’ per se, but there are remedies which can make the period of illness easier and more tolerable.
These are some of the things you can do to help ease the symptoms of measles.
- Stay indoors and get plenty of rest.
- Rest your eyes—you want to stay in well-ventilated room but want to avoid direct sunlight. Placing a removable screen around the person is an ideal way to protect from direct sunlight as it can damage eye tissues.
- Seek respiratory relief—using a humidifier or vaporizer can help relax airways and relieve cough.
- Drink, drink, drink! Sipping water, coconut water, herbal teas, and juices is much more effective than actual food. Since measles patients lose their appetite, it is best to focus on drinking plenty of fluids. Hydration is the secret of recovery.
Natural remedies can help fight the virus and may help you recover from the disease faster. Below are some natural remedies which you can try. My advice is that you select few of the remedies and then stick with them. Avoid trying a new remedy everyday.
- Neem Leaves
- Olive Leaves
- Bitter Gourd
- Add one tablespoon each of turmeric powder and honey to a glass of lukewarm milk. Drink it twice daily for a month.
- Grind equal amounts of tamarind seeds and turmeric root. Have this mixture, in a dose of 350 to 400 grams (about two and one-half cups), three times a day for two to three weeks.
- Mix one-half teaspoon of turmeric and a few drops each of honey and bitter gourd juice. Consume the mixture at least once a day for about a month.
- Coconut Water
Coconut water has several nutrients that help cleanse the body of toxic elements. It is also rich in antioxidants which help promote a speedy recovery from measles.
When suffering from measles, drink plenty of coconut water daily until you recover completely. This will keep the body hydrated and also save you from developing fatigue due to loss of energy.
- Liquorice Root
- Tamrind and Turmeric
Take dried tamarind seeds, grind them in a food processor until powdered, and store in an airtight container. Mix equal portion of powdered tamarind seeds and turmeric powder. This mix should be given in the doses of 350gm to 425gm, three times daily to the person suffering from measles.
Smash the cloves of garlic and mix with honey. Take a teaspoon daily until better. Avoid giving this to children as their digestive system is not developed enough to handle high doses of raw garlic.
If the taste of garlic is too intense for you, you can substitute with garlic supplements.
- Lemon Juice
Take about 15-25ml (3 to 5 teaspoons) of freshly squeezed lemon juice, mixed with warm water daily. This can be an effective cure for measles and also helps detoxify the body. DO NOT use bottled lemon juice!
- Bitter Gourd Leaves and Turmeric
Juice the bitter gourd leaves with a small amount of water. Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder to a cup of juice, add honey for flavor. Drink one cup of juice daily, and 2 if you can handle more, but don’t exceed that amount. This is a very effective natural cure for measles.
- Indian Gooseberry (Amla):
Barley water is a very effective natural cure to treat the coughs in measles. The patient should drink barley water flavored with a few drops of sweetened almond oil as frequently as possible.
- Calendula Flowers
Calendula flowers contain essential minerals, which help in speeding the healing process of measles. Boil three cups of water and add one tablespoon of powdered flowers. Strain and drink twice a day till the symptoms of measles subside. Peppermint oil and/or honey can be added to make it more effective and palatable.
- Eggplant Seeds
Egg plant seeds help in developing immunity against measles. Patient can be given about half to one gram of eggplant seeds daily for three days at the onset of measles. It is also recommended for caregivers and other household members to take the seeds as well to build immunity against the virus. You can purchase the seeds from a health food store, a gardening store where you can buy seeds for planting, or harvest them yourself from the eggplant and either sun dry them or roast them for preservation purposes.
- Orange Juice
Orange is an excellent natural cure for measles. Its high Vitamin C content makes it ideal to fight any and all germs. Also, since the infected person will feel a loss of appetite and lack of saliva on their tongue, they would not feel thirsty or hungry. Orange juice is a good nourishment during this period of loss of appetite.
If measles is accompanied by fever, mix butter and honey in equal quantity and take 2 teaspoons in the morning.
- Orange & Lime
Squeeze one orange and one lime. Add a tea spoon of garlic powder to the juice and drink it in the morning before breakfast. If the taste is too intense, you can dilute it with some water.
- Garlic Steam
This works wonders! Boil a whole bulb of garlic in a few cups of water and inhale the steam. Repeat twice daily for a minimum of 10 days. You can also use a diffuser and garlic essential oil to achieve the same purpose.
PRECAUTIONS WHILE HANDLING A MEASLES PATIENT
- Measles patient should be kept in isolation since the disease is highly infectious. They should be given complete rest which will facilitate speedy recovery.
- The patient can be given lots of warm water to drink, as this flushes the toxins out of the system. For better results, add some lemon or lime to the water. It is also recommended to take warm water first thing in the morning in an empty stomach
- Patient will feel a loss of appetite. Don’t stress yourself or them out by insisting on food. Give them fresh fruit and vegetable juices, focusing on citrus fruits, and bone broth.
- Once the appetite returns, introduce foods gradually, focusing on green vegetables and fruits to boost the immune system.
- Measles patient should be kept in well ventilated room.
- Avoid direct sunlight as measles damages eye tissues which results in watery eyes. The room should have subdued light to avoid damage to the eyes.
- Avoid milk and other dairy products as they may worsen the condition. In case of a child whose diet includes regular intake of milk, limit the quantity. If the baby is small enough to only drink milk, you can continue giving the regular quantity since you don’t want to weaken them further.
- Ensure that the room and the surroundings are clean and constantly disinfected. This requires wiping the surfaces with Dettol or disinfectant wipes.
- Regularly wash the bedsheets, towels and clothes of the patient, and wash them separately from the rest of the family’s.
- Use only designated dishes and utensils for the patient. Wash them separately from the rest of the family and even use a separate designated sponge for washing and make sure to throw it out once the recovery period starts.
- Keep a few cloves of garlic and a sprig of neem leaves in the room of the patient. They help disinfect the surroundings.
Even when the symptoms have subsided and the person has relatively recovered from the virus, it is best to keep things slow. Continue to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid rigorous physical activity, and avoid heavy foods especially junk food and take outs. The virus may have left the body but it leaves behind damage that takes some time to recover from.
That being said, there is nothing you cannot recover from with love, support, caution, healthy food and proper hydration!