Measles is an acute febrile eruption. It is a highly infectious disease and is very common among children. It is so common at this stage of life that nearly all chidren everywhere in the world go through this brief period of red spots. The disease appears in epidemics, often in the winter season, involving many children in the society.
A child can be suspected to have caught the measles if he has not yet had this disease, and if he lives in a place where the disease has now spread. The first symptoms, which appear during seven to 14 days after exposure to the virus, are feverishness, cold, watering of the eyes and dry cough. The face appears to be a little puffed up. The eye-lids are swollen and they can be opened with difficulty. The eyes themselves grow red because of conjuctivitis and cannot bear the light. The child may also complain of weakness, heaviness of the head and pain in the throat and he has a disliking for food. Croup may also develop in younger children.
Rashes appear on the skin in three to five days after the onset of these symptoms. These rashes, which consist of small rounded spots with reddened skin in between, initially appear on the sides of the face and the neck and then gradually spread all over the body, appearing last on the extremities. Initially pink in colour, these rashes grow darker as times passes.
Measles is usually accompanied with high fever and coriza like symptoms. Complications which can arise from this disease include pneumonia, bronchitis, middle ear disease, tuberculosis lesion in lung may get flare up. One serious but rare complication is the inflammation of the brain.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases, caused by a virus. The measles virus is so infectious that in cities, children catch this disease before they reach the age of five years. During pregnancy Mothers generally pass their antibodies to their new borns which immunize them passively against measles. This protection, however, does not last beyond the sixth months. Measles is easily transmitted in the early stages through the invisible droplets of moisture which are discharged from a patient's nose or mouth when he coughs or sneezes.
The secondary cause of this disease, like other diseases of childhood, however, is wrong diet and unhygenic living conditions. It is thus a natural healing crisis aimed at cleansing the orgnism of the toxins and morbid matter resulting mainly from the consumption of large amounts of starchy and sugary foods.
In the begining of the treatment, the patient should take fresh fruit juices especially orange and lemon,mixed with water on 50 : 50 basis frequently. This is sufficient as the child suffers from lack of appetite during this period. He should be kept in a well- ventilated room. As light has a deterimental effect upon the eyes during measles, the room should have subdued light.
The treatment should aim at bringing down the temperature and eliminating the toxins from the system. A helpful measure would be to persuade the child to take warm water enema, every morning, to cleanse the bowels. Mud packs may be applied to the abdomen and wet packs on the chest twice a day in the morning and evening. The procedure for these packs have been explained in Appendix. Lukewarm water baths can be given every day to ease itching. Addition of extracts of neem leaves to this water will prove beneficial.
As the condition improves, the child can be placed on an all- fruit diet for further two or three days. In this regimen, he should take three meals of fresh juicy fruits such as apple, pear, pineapple, orange, mango and peach. Thereafter he may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, according to his age. The emphasis should be on whole grain cereals, fresh fruits and raw or lightly cooked vegetables.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of measles. The most valuable among these is the use of orange. When the digestive power of the body is seriously hampered, the patient suffers from intense toxaemia, and the lack of saliva coats his tongue and often destroys his thirst for water as well as his desire for food. The agreeable flavour of orange juice helps greatly in overcoming these drawbacks. Orange juice is the most ideal liquid food in this disease.
The juice of lemon is another remedy. It also makes an effective thirst-quenching drink in measles. About 15 to 25 ml. of lemon juice should be taken diluted with water for this purpose.
Turmeric (haldi) is beneficial in the treatment of measles. Raw roots of turmeric should be dried in the sun and ground to a fine powder. This powder, mixed with a few drops of honey and the juice of few bitter gourd (karela) leaves, should be given to the patients suffering from measles.
Powdered liquorice (mulethi) has been found valuable in relieving the cough, typical of measles. The child patient should be given this powdered liquorice mixed with honey.
The use of barley (jau) water has proved beneficial in case of troublesome cough in measles. This water should be taken frequently, sweetened with the newly -drawn oil of sweet almonds.
The seeds of egg plant (baigan) are stimulant. According to Dr. Sanyal of Calcutta, intake of half a gram to one gram of these seeds daily for three days will help develop immunity against measles for one year.
Children having measles should not be allowed to mix with others. They should take complete rest. Hygenic conditions along with the above mentioned treatment will lead to speedy recovery. Medications should be strictly avoided, except in case of complications.