When a person contracts HIV, they shall experience some flu-like symptoms during the initial stage when the virus is multiplying rapidly. The symptoms are the body’s natural response against the entry of foreign substances. Once the virus gets inside the body, it starts attacking the cells and damaging the immune system. The rapid growth and multiplication of HIV causes the weakening of the immune system response.
During the initial stage, the immune system will try extremely hard to fight off the virus by releasing white blood cells into the bloodstream. In this way, the immune system mounts a response against infectious pathogens. The person will develop the symptoms during the first stage, which is termed acute HIV infection.
The flu-like symptoms happen in the acute stage, and the doctors call these HIV symptoms the seroconversion illness. In the process of fighting off the pathogens during the acute stage of HIV, the person will experience various symptoms that are as follows:
Within two to four weeks of getting caught with HIV, the individual will be down with a high fever. Fever is the early symptom, which happens when the body senses the presence of foreign substances, also called antigens, the immune system responds by releasing white blood cells to recognize and kill off the antigens. It happens along with a sore throat and dry cough.
When the temperature of the body is normal, it is favorable for the viruses and bacteria, as it supports their growth and development. This is why, when fighting HIV, the body raises the temperature which makes it tough for the virus to survive. Hence, fever is one of the most common symptoms of HIV.
The person may experience unrelenting headaches during the initial stages of the infection. The pain does not happen on some particular spot of the head, instead, the pain is felt in the whole head. Headache is one of the most common symptoms an individual experiences in the event of a fever or viral infection.
Swollen lymph nodes
Swelling of lymph nodes is an early symptom of contracting HIV. This can also happen in the severe stages, that is during AIDS. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are part of the lymphatic system, which helps the immune system in fighting infectious pathogens.
Swollen lymph nodes are an indication that the body is actively fighting off infections. When they swell, they may feel tender and lumpy and causes pain. The pain can be felt around the neck, throat, chin, groin, and armpits.
Oral yeast infection (thrush)
Oral thrush can happen due to the weakening of the immune system owing to HIV. Yeast and fungus attacks are very common among HIV-positive individuals. These yeasts live in the human body naturally, but they are not as active to cause thrush. When the immune response gets weakened due to HIV, these infections thrive and become powerful. Without HIV treatment, these yeast causes severe infection throughout the body and possibly contribute to death.
The ill effects of HIV infection can cause undesired weight loss among infected individuals. This occurs when the disease causes severe damage to the immune system, because of which the individual becomes highly prone to the attack of opportunistic viruses and bacteria. The infection affects the physical as well as mental health, which makes the person lose excessive weight.
HIV-infected individuals may have frequent issues with their gut. They may suffer from mild or severe forms of diarrhea, making them pass loose watery stools. Passing stools frequently will lead to severe dehydration and causes the loss of electrolytes from the body. The individual may suffer due to the electrolytic imbalance. There is a high possibility of diarrhea becoming a chronic condition among HIV-positive individuals.
The constant attack of opportunistic infections and viruses causes the immune system to stay completely active and in attacking mode. This requires too much energy. The body’s vulnerability to infections and diseases is very high during such cases, which affects the person physiologically as well as psychologically. Fear, worry, and constant stress due to the deadly consequences of the condition can disturb mental peace and make the person feel completely drained and tired.
When the immune system gets severely damaged, it increases the individual’s chances of getting diagnosed with pneumonia. Pneumonia is a life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs present inside the lungs. The air sacs may get filled with fluid or pus, giving rise to breathing problems, cough, phlegm, fever, and chills. Moreover, HIV-positive individuals are also highly likely to experience other pulmonary infections, such as tuberculosis.
When the immune system is compromised, the individual becomes prone to shingles, also called herpes zoster. This can cause skin rashes that turn itchy and painful. It can appear mainly on the face or anywhere on the body. Shingle is an early symptom of HIV.