Wednesday, July 30, 2014
   
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Cuidado con la papera

La parotiditis, también conocida como papera, es una enfermedad provocada por un virus que se contagia a través de la saliva y que puede infectar muchas partes del cuerpo, especialmente las glándulas salivares parótidas.

Estas glándulas se encuentran en la parte posterior de ambos pómulos, en las áreas comprendidas entre las orejas y la mandíbula. Cuando una persona tiene papera, estas glándulas se inflaman y duelen.

Antes de describir los síntomas y signos clínicos de la enfermedad, es importante tener presente que aproximadamente un tercio de las personas infectadas por el virus desarrollan la enfermedad de una forma subclínica, es decir, que los síntomas son tan poco específicos y claros, que el paciente no sabe que tiene la enfermedad.

El infectólogo Clemente Terrero, del Robert Read Cabral y del centro médico Obstetricia y Especialidades, explica que la papera se caracteriza por un incremento del tamaño de la glándula parótida, malestar general, dolor de cabeza y fiebre.

Es frecuente que el paciente tenga molestias al hablar y al masticar, siendo muy característico que el consumo de cítricos (limón, naranja) incremente las molestias, ya que estimula la salivación.

“Aproximadamente una semana después de la aparición de la inflamación, ésta comienza a desaparecer y en poco tiempo el paciente se encuentra libre de síntomas, y la glándula adopta su  tamaño normal”, explica el experto.

Complicaciones. Terrero sostiene que cuando la papera afecta a adolescentes o adultos de sexo masculino, pueden provocar orquitis o inflamación de los testículos, lo que ocurre porque el virus afecta todo el organismo. “Generalmente, un testículo  presenta inflamación  durante siete y 10 días después de la inflamación de las parótidas.

Esto va acompañado de fiebre alta, escalofríos, dolor de cabeza, náuseas, vómitos y dolor abdominal, que a veces se puede confundir con una apendicitis si el afectado es el testículo derecho”, agregó.

El virus de la papera puede producir encefalitis, afectar al páncreas y los ovarios, provocando dolor y sensibilidad al tacto en las partes correspondientes del abdomen.  Después de pasar la papera, es muy raro volver a contraer la enfermedad porque un episodio de papera casi siempre proporciona protección de por vida contra la enfermedad.

Cómo se contagia la enfermedad

“El virus de la papera se contagia a través de las gotitas del fluido procedente de la boca o la nariz de las personas infectadas. Se puede transmitir al estornudar, toser o reír”, dice Terrero.

Las personas con papera son especialmente contagiosas durante el período comprendido entre dos días, antes de la aparición de los síntomas, y seis días después de su desaparición. Las personas que están infectadas por el virus, aunque  no presenten síntomas también pueden contagiar la enfermedad.

El experto explica que la papera se puede prevenir administrando la vacuna pertinente.

Los adolescentes que todavía no se han vacunado contra la papera, debererán asegurarse de recibir dos dosis de la triple vírica.

El tratamiento para combatir esta enfermedad también incluye mucho reposo y no ingerir muchas bebidas frías, ya que esto puede incrementar el dolor.

El experto recuerda que hay otras infecciones que también pueden cursar con inflamación de las glándulas salivares, que pueden llevar a un padre a creer equivocadamente que su hijo padece de  papera,  por lo que hay que asistir al médico.

Especialista

Clemente Terrero
Infectólogo

“La papera se puede prevenir con la vacuna Triple viral, que funciona también contra el sarampión y la rubéola, la cual debe administrarse durante el primer año de edad. Si la enfermedad ya se ha presentado la fiebre que se afecta el paciente se deberá controlar con antipiréticos y aplicando paños húmedos. Es importante que se asegure una abundante ingestión de líquidos y analgésicos para combatir el dolor”.

El Caribe

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