The most common complication of hand-foot-and-mouth disease is dehydration. The illness can cause sores in the mouth and throat, making swallowing painful and difficult. Watch closely to make sure your child frequently sips fluid during the course of the illness. If dehydration is severe, intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is usually a minor illness causing only a few days of fever and relatively mild signs and symptoms. However, a rare and sometimes serious form of the coxsackievirus can involve the brain and cause other complications:
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- Viral meningitis. This is an infection and inflammation of the membranes (meninges) and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is usually mild and often clears on its own.
- Encephalitis. This severe and potentially life-threatening disease involves brain inflammation caused by a virus. Encephalitis is rare.
- Hand, foot, & mouth disease (HFMD): Fast facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/enterovirus/hfhf.htm. Accessed July 12, 2011.
- Ng JJ, et al. Hand-foot-mouth disease. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookHome&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&uniq=266352183-2. Accessed July 12, 2011.
- Modlin JF. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of enterovirus infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 12, 2011.
- Non-polio enterovirus infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/enterovirus/non-polio_entero.htm. Accessed July 13, 2011.
- Belazarian L, et al. Exanthematous viral diseases. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2997642. Accessed July 13, 2011.