When HIV enters the body, early HIV-AIDS symptoms start appearing immediately. This is attributed to the acute deterioration of the immune system and the drastic decline in the numbers of CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to the immune system's capacity of fighting infections. HIV begins to destroy these cells immediately as soon as these cells enter the body. You should immediately get an STD testing when you suspect you were exposed to a chanced infection just recently. There are HIV-AIDS specific tests available that are designed to directly detect HIV infection. For your peace of mind, some of the most common early HIV symptoms include:
- Persistent severe diarrhea (more than 1 week)
- Dry cough
- Intense, incomprehensible fatigue
- Weight loss (rapid)
- Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
- Pink, red, brown or purplish blotches inside the mouth, nose or eyelids, on or under the skin
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpits or groin
- White spots or abnormal discolorations in the mouth, on the tongue, or in the throat
- Depression, memory loss, and neurological disorders
And later when the immune system is too weakened, HIV-AIDS patients become more prone to opportunistic infections. The term opportunistic infections are used because these types of infections are caused by organisms that typically don't cause disease in healthy people. These organisms only affect people with damaged immune systems. More precisely, these organisms attack when an opportunity to infect is open or present.
A few of these opportunistic infections associated with advanced stage HIV-AIDS are exhibited by the following symptoms and signs:
Dry coughs and night sweats
A dry cough that lasts for up to a year and beyond is a bad sign. Especially when it kept getting worse and no medication can fix it; from Benadryl, antibiotics to inhalers and anti-allergists. Also, a germ that usually doesn’t make a healthy immune system sick easily makes people with advanced stage HIV very, very sick.
Night sweats which usually occur during the early stages of HIV infection, with almost half of HIV patients showing this symptom also become more common in the late/advanced stages of the infection. Especially when patients already developed Pneumocystis pneumonia due to a very weak immune response. Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), "AIDS pneumonia”, usually causes these symptoms to manifest.
Nail changes, Cold Sores, Genital Herpes
Other opportunistic infections that can severely affect HIV patients with badly compromised immune responses include cytomegalovirus, which is a type of herpes virus; toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic infection that affects the brain; and thrush, a mouth infection caused by Candida, which is a type of yeast.
The following signs are the visible HIV symptoms of these infections:
- Nail Changes (clubbing-thickening and curving of the nails, split nails, or discoloration) due to fungal infection, such as Candida.
- ARS symptoms like cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes can also be a sign late-stage HIV infection. Genital and oral herpes are also risk factors for contracting HIV. Genital herpes can cause ulcers, making it easier for HIV to enter the body during sex, which seems to be more common and more severe in people with late-stage HIV because HIV weakens the immune system.
Some of the more visible signs of late HIV-AIDS
- Menstrual irregularities (fewer and lighter periods) are a common risk of having HIV, linked to weight loss and poor health of women with late-stage HIV infection rather than the infection itself. The higher percentage of infected women also go through early age menopause (47 to 48 years) compared to uninfected women (49 to 51 years).
- Cognitive problems, which is an HIV-related dementia, usually occurring at the late stage of the disease. Might also cause memory problems and behavioral issues (anger or irritability) in addition to confusion and difficulty concentrating, which is AIDS-related dementia. And could further cause changes to motor skills like lack of coordination, becoming clumsy, and complications doing tasks that involve fine motor skills, for instance, writing by hand.
- Tingling and weakness are also signs of late-stage HIV (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet), with the medical term peripheral neuropathy, which is also common in patients with uncontrolled diabetes.