Leprosy symptoms

The infectious disease leprosy has been around since biblical times. Back then, those who had it were ostracized and secluded for fear of infection, but not only that, because those people were suddenly different, even if they didn’t know why. Today, the symptoms of leprosy haven’t changed, but the treatment has; both treatment of the infection and treatment of the individual. The symptoms of leprosy, as you will see, can be debilitating and severe.

What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is an infectious bacterial disease caused by the organism Mycobacteriumleprae. It is hard to transmit to other individuals (depending on the type of leprosy), and it has a long incubation period; an individual can “catch” the disease and won’t notice symptoms for a very long time. This time period can be a few months, or it can be a few years, or it can be a few decades. There are two forms of leprosy: tuberculoid and lepromatous, the latter being the most severe. The bacteria first infect dermal nerves, then the skin cells, then the mouth mucosa, then the upper breath organ, then the reticuloendothelial system, then the muscle tissue, eyes, and bones. The symptoms (which will be discussed in the next section) aren’t the only problem; many people, as a result of the infection, have psychological and social problems during and after the disease. The individual will most likely feel isolated from others.

Symptoms of Leprosy
Both types of leprosy produce sores on the skin; however, the lepromatous form, since it is more severe, produces large, disfiguring lumps and bumps, known as nodules.  Both types of leprosy can eventually cause nerve damage in the arms and legs, which leads to sensory loss in the skin and weakness in the muscles. If the leprosy is a long-term condition, people may lose the use of their hands and feet due to repeated injury because the individual can often not feel these extremities being injured in the first place. The skin lesions (and there is usually more than one; in fact there can be several) are lighter than the normal skin color, have decreased sensation to touch, heat, and pain, and they do not heal after many months (like other types of lesions can that aren’t due to leprosy). Another symptom an individual might notice is numbness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Other possible symptoms are: severe pain, skin stiffness and dryness, total loss of fingers and toes, and enlarged nerves. The type and severity of the symptoms depends on the individual’s immune system, and of course, the type of leprosy. With early diagnosis and treatment, many symptoms can be prevented, especially the more severe ones.

Treating Leprosy
Leprosy is most commonly treated with antibiotics, and the regimen can last for 6 months or more. The type of antibiotic, the dosage, and the length of time depend on the type of leprosy; it may be necessary to use more than one antibiotic. It may take 2 or 3. It is necessary to take the full course of medication, even though it can be for a very long time; if the full regimen isn’t followed it may not be cured. Once treatment is started, it is no longer contagious. The idea is to get rid of the infection and prevent further damage; often, damage done before the antibiotics are given is irreversible. Surgery is a possible option after treatment is through to improve cosmetic appearance, restore limb function, and if possible, neural functions that were lost before the antibiotics were started. Physical, social, and psychological rehabilitation may be necessary in some individuals as part of a treatment plan.

Last updated on Aug 23rd, 2010 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Leprosy symptoms”

  1. E.Lorain says:

    I been treated for leprosy having MDT Course 1St dose on 6-10-2008 and final on 16-09-2009.at the General Hospital.
    First i had a wound underneath my Left foot toe Thumb.Treated with applying Betadine Lotion.Now the wound is healed.I wore a specially shoe to prevent weight to the fingers..
    Now my problem is mostly in the Evening my whole foot is paining.So I apply Olive Oil .I get some relefe.
    still i cant Walk without wearing shoes
    Wiil this be heal completly. What Vitamines May I take.
    Hope to get a Reply. Thank You.

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