Rubella is a viral infection that causes a red rash on your body. Rubella is also known as German measles and Three-day Measles. It lasts for about three days once the rash breaks out. Rubella is usually accompanied by swollen lymph nodes that can last for a few weeks and cold-like symptoms like a sore throat and fever. The Rubella virus is spread through the air, from coughing. The virus can also be caught if you share food or drinks with an infected person. More recently, Rubella has become less common since a vaccine is available for it. The vaccine is usually given as a combination known as the MMR vaccine that is given for the Prevention of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. The World Health Organization recommends that children should be vaccinated with the first dose of the MMR vaccine between 12 and 18 months of age. They should then receive the second dose at 36 months. While Rubella commonly affects children between 5 and 9 years of age, it can also affect adults. Should a pregnant woman become infected, her baby is at risk being born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome which can be quite serious. Rubella in others, on the other hand, is typically a mild infection that will clear up within a week or two without treatment. In fact, the symptoms are often so mild that up to 50% of infected people do not even know they have Rubella and can pass it on unknowingly.
Red or Pink Rash
The symptoms of Rubella are often so mild that you may not even be aware that you have the virus. However, the most common first sign of a Rubella infection is a red or pink rash that begins on the face and moves down the neck to the trunk of the body and finally to the limbs. The rash will usually disappear after three days, with the rash in the face fading as it moves to other parts of the body. The rash does not leave any staining on the skin, nor does it result in the peeling of any skin. There may be very small flakes of skin that shed once the rash has cleared, not causing any permanent damage to the skin.
Cold-like symptoms often accompany Rubella, with a low fever of no higher than 38.3°C or 101°F. A fever that accompanies Rubella is often very mild and may cause a sore throat or affect the eyes in the form of conjunctivitis. The fever usually precedes the rash by one to two days, together with swollen lymph glands. A mild fever and sore throat can be treated as normal with paracetamol, in a dosage that is age appropriate. It is important to consult your doctor if you are unsure of the treatment method.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Since the rash from the Rubella virus can be easily confused with other rash-causing viruses and diseases in children, the tell-tale sign that it is Rubella is swollen glands. The lymph glands or nodes behind the ears will be enlarged as well as the glands at the back of the neck around the base of the skull. These glands become tender and sore when swollen. Other glands throughout the body may also become swollen when the Rubella virus infects the body. However, they will all go back to normal once the body has recovered from the virus.
A Runny Nose
Together with the mild fever, you may experience a runny nose with Rubella, the same symptoms you may experience with a common cold. This is the reason why may people do not know they have Rubella until the rash breaks out. A stuffy or a runny nose is usually experienced together with the fever, headache, and conjunctivitis, just like a cold or the flu. This can be treated the same way you would treat your common cold, but if you are unsure, always consult your doctor. Since there is no precise treatment for Rubella, you will need to treat the symptoms, rather than the virus.
Usually occurring in older children or teenagers and adults, headaches can be caused by the Rubella virus too. Once again, a flu-like symptom, headaches can be treated as you would normally treat them when experiencing your common cold or the flu. If you experience headaches together with a fever and runny nose, it is easy to mistake the symptoms of Rubella for a simple cold.
Inflamed, Red Eyes
Conjunctivitis can also be a symptom of Rubella. When infected with the Rubella virus, you can experience sore and red eyes for a few days. Conjunctivitis, also known as Pink Eye, is highly contagious and can be spread by hand-to-eye contact or contaminated objects. Conjunctivitis can be caused by either viral or bacterial infection from different sources, the Rubella virus being one of them. Consult a doctor for the best treatment for conjunctivitis, which is usually in the form of eye drops or specialized eye ointment.
Earache or Ear Infection
Rubella is also notorious for an accompanying earache or ear infection. As it is common to get an ear infection when you have a viral infection, Rubella is no different. Earache is commonly experienced with Rubella in children under the age of 4 years old. Earache and infections can be treated as usual when experienced with Rubella. Consult a doctor if you require any serious treatment or medications like specialized ear drops.
Rubella, also, can also cause inflammation or swelling of joints, causing them to ache. This can occur a few days into the illness and can be accompanied by redness or warmth around the joints. This symptom of Rubella more commonly affects adult women, with around 60% of Rubella patients reporting joint pain. Rubella can affect any joints throughout the body, but commonly affect fingers and knees. It will take a few weeks for the Rubella-related joint pain to ease up. However, complications can persist for a number of years. Joint pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone, although in serious cases you should consult a specialist.
Together with aching joints, Rubella can cause you to experience muscle pain. This symptom is less commonly experienced among children, and rather common with adults instead. This pain can last for about one week before easing up and can be treated with ice or an over-the-counter pain reliever. It is also advised to rest your body and do not perform any strenuous activities that can injure sore muscles. Gentle stretches can help to ease the pain. In addition, you could also apply a topical pain reliever to ease the soreness.
Usually only common in adult patients with Rubella, you may experience a stiff neck. This is most often on in very serious cases which can lead to more intense complications, like encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. It is important to note that this is a highly rare complication of Rubella. If you are experiencing a sore or stiff neck, consult your doctor immediately to rule out any serious complications.