Adult Diseases: An Overview

Ask your health care professional what you can do concerning the following diseases.

Chickenpox (Varicella) is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Chickenpox causes a rash with itchy blisters. Touching fluid from the blister can also spread the disease. The illness can include headache, fever, general discomfort, and an itchy rash. Problems can include infection of the rash and rarely, infection of the lung and swelling of the brain.

Diphtheria begins as a sore throat with a mild fever. People can get a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat causing breathing and swallowing problems. It can also affect the heart and nerves.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is spread by food or water that contains the virus, or by putting objects with the virus on them in the mouth. May cause fever, tiredness, stomachache, loss of appetite, and yellow skin or eyes.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread through blood and other body fluids. May cause loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, pain in muscles or joints, stomachache, and yellow skin or eyes. It may lead to liver damage, including liver cancer.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a widespread virus that infects most people in their lifetime. Exposure can happen with any kind of genital contact with someone who has HPV. For most, HPV has no signs or symptoms and clears on its own. For those who don't clear certain types, HPV could cause cervical cancer in females and anal cancer in males and females. Other types could cause genital warts in both males and females.

Influenza (Flu) is an illness of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by viruses that can spread when infected people cough or sneeze. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Influenza can lead to pneumonia and loss of body fluids.

Measles spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can cause fever, coughing, running nose, and watery eyes. Complications include ear, lung, and brain infections. While rare, permanent brain damage or death can occur.

Meningococcal Disease (Meningitis) is swelling around the brain. Some types are spread by close contact (such as kissing) with an infected person. Patients may have fever, rash, headache, and a stiff neck.

Mumps is easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can cause fever, headache, muscle ache, and swelling of the glands under the ears and jaw. Infection may lead to swelling around the brain and hearing loss.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is a lung infection that begins with a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. The cough progresses into coughing fits making it hard to breathe, eat, drink, or sleep. Whooping cough spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

Pneumococcal Disease is caused by bacteria in the nose and throat and can spread when infected people sneeze or cough. Common types include an infection of the lung, blood, brain, and spinal cord. Symptoms depend on the part of the body that is infected.

Rubella (German Measles) spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can cause a fever and rash that last for 2–3 days. It may also cause swollen glands, cold-like symptoms, and aching joints. May cause birth defects in babies of pregnant women.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a painful skin rash on one side of the face or body caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV). There is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. A rash then forms blisters. The pain may persist for many years in some people.

Tetanus (Lockjaw) enters the body through a cut or wound. May cause painful muscle spasms, the inability to open the mouth (lockjaw), and difficulty swallowing.

For more information about these diseases:

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

American College of Physicians (ACP)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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