10 Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/symptoms/index.html
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Parasites are animals that live directly off other animals. They can sometimes live internally while many others will live directly on the skin. One common example of a parasite that lives on the skin are ticks and they are found throughout much of the world. They will attach themselves to their host with strong mandibles and will feed on their host’s blood.

Some ticks will carry bacteria and other pathogens that can be passed onto their host. One example is the Rickettsia bacterium, which is responsible for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) 1https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/symptoms/index.html. RMSF can be treated and is rarely fatal, although it should never be treated with complacency. If you do suspect symptoms of RMSF or another similar disease, you should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can.

Symptom #1: Headache

If you have never experienced a headache before then you are in a very lucky minority. They can sometimes come on for no apparent reason and can range in severity from mild to severe. Headaches are a common symptom of many illnesses and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is one of them.

Because headaches are so common it is unlikely you will get a diagnosis of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever unless other symptoms help to clearly identify it. Sometimes, tests may be necessary to reach a correct diagnosis. Regardless, if you are suffering from severe headaches then it may be a good idea to book an appointment with a doctor.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Symptom #2: Nausea

Nausea can be a very unpleasant feeling and one which we would hope passes as soon as possible. It doesn’t necessarily make us physically vomit, although it often will, and this can lead to complications where hydration and nutrition are concerned. Nausea can be caused by a huge range of causes and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is one of them.

Nausea is a symptom of some very unpleasant conditions so it is advisable to consult a doctor should symptoms persist. It might turn out to be something minor but it is best to check in case it is something more alarming.

Symptom #3: Fatigue

If you are feeling low on energy then it could just be that you need some food and rest, although it could also be a sign that you are unwell. In addition to general tiredness, fatigue is also a symptom that is caused by various illnesses including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

With the body diverting resources toward the fight against the disease, people that have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever may begin to feel fatigued. When you are ill, it is important to try and get all the nutrition you need to help fuel the body even if you don’t feel like eating.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Symptom #4: Poor Appetite

A good appetite, within reason, is a sign of good health. It means that our body is craving the nutrition and energy it needs to function fully, keeping us well and happy. It also follows that a poor appetite is an indicator of bad health and is a symptom of various illnesses including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

A poor appetite when ill is generally caused when the digestive system is not functioning at full strength. Even though you may not feel like eating when ill, it is important that you still eat what you can. A lack of nutrition will hinder your body’s efforts at fighting the illness while also potentially leading to other complications.

Symptom #5: Confusion

Our brains are usually working as efficiently as they need to, helping us to remain aware of everything that is around us. We are usually alert enough to react to what is happening, and everyday mental challenges are of little concern to us. When things aren’t working as they should, though, even the simplest of things can become confusing.

When we are ill, resources can be diverted away from the brain as they are needed elsewhere in the body. With the brain not getting the fuel it needs, it is unable to operate at maximum effectiveness. With less processing power, we can become confused far easier than we normally would. Rocky mountain spotted fever may also cause inflammation of the brain which is another cause for confusion.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Symptom #6: Fever

Pathogens thrive best under certain conditions, one condition being temperature. If their host is at the right temperature then they could proliferate quickly, potentially making the patient very ill. The body has a simple line of defense in this regard, though, which is to raise the temperature of the body.

When the body temperature is raised sufficiently, pathogens will not be able to thrive and it may even kill them off altogether. A raise in temperature is also a part of the immune system activating. This means that a fever is a very valuable weapon in the defense against disease, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, even if it does feel uncomfortable to us.

Symptom #7: Chills

Chills are another uncomfortable symptom that results from our body’s natural defense systems. When a pathogen is present, the body will often raise the temperature of the body to make it an inhospitable place for the pathogen and for the immune system respond. In order to help raise the temperature of the body, the muscles will contract and cause chills.

Chills are a symptom of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and might help to reach a diagnosis along with other symptoms. While chills can be unpleasant, they are not usually something to be overly concerned about. However, they can also be a symptom of something potentially dangerous so it is advisable to not be too complacent.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Symptom #8: Abdominal Pain

Aches and pains in the abdominal region are not uncommon. They are often caused by something quite harmless such as having eaten food that is harsh on our digestive system. Sometimes, though, pains in the abdomen area are also an indicator that there is something to be concerned about.

If you are experiencing pain in the abdominal area, it is possibly being caused by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It can be difficult to get a quick diagnosis and blood tests may be needed, but doctors may at least be able to treat symptoms to help you feel more comfortable.

Symptom #9: Aching Muscles

Our bodies have several lines of defense when it comes to fighting disease. One is chemical warfare and it can be really quite effective. The white blood cells can be called into action to attack pathogens with chemicals, killing the pathogens or at least slowing their progress.

These chemicals do have an undesired effect on the body, though, in that they can cause the muscles to ache. To make matters worse, calling the white blood cells into action also means they are called away from their normal tasks, which is the repair and maintenance of the muscles. These symptoms will go away completely once the pathogen is no longer present in the body.

Symptom #10: Distinctive Rash

Sometimes, the presence of a pathogen in the body can have an effect just beneath the surface of the skin. This can cause bumps on the surface which we recognise as a rash and they can be very helpful in diagnosing a disease. In the case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the associated rash is quite distinctive.

The rash that comes with RMSF will appear around 2-5 days after the fever has begun. It is likely to begin at the wrist and ankles and move towards the torso, with a second rash appearing after day 6. If the second rash has appeared then this is a clear sign the disease has worsened and should be taken very seriously.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

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