How is fifth disease managed or treated?
Fifth disease symptoms typically go away in a few weeks with minimal treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers that can treat fever, headaches and joint pain. These medicines include:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®).
What are the complications of fifth disease?
Most people recover completely from fifth disease without any long-lasting problems. Sometimes, complications can occur, including:
- Anemia: Sometimes the virus stops the body’s production of red blood cells, leading to anemia. This problem is temporary and usually not noticeable. However, anemia can be serious if you have a weakened immune system. You are most at risk for complications if you have sickle cell disease, cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or have had an organ transplant.
- Arthritis: A small number of children (10%) and a larger number of adults (around 80%) temporarily develop painful joints and swelling. These symptoms typically improve in a couple of weeks. However, 10% of adults develop chronic parvovirus-associated arthritis, or polyarthritis. Women are more at risk than men.
How does fifth disease affect pregnancy?
The virus can infect unborn babies through their mother’s blood. The virus doesn’t cause birth defects or developmental problems. If you’re pregnant and have been exposed to someone with fifth disease, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
If you have fifth disease while you’re pregnant, the virus can very rarely lead to:
- Fetal anemia (low red blood cell count).
- Hydrops fetalis (fluid buildup around organs).
- Miscarriage (when pregnancy ends before the baby develops fully).
- Stillbirth (when a baby dies before birth).
However, most pregnant mothers who are infected with this virus deliver normal, healthy babies.