AIDS, also known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the most serious stage of a disease known as HIV disease. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual. The effects of AIDS can be devastating, as the disease lowers the immune system so much that even the mildest illness or infection can be fatal. Some of the more common effects of AIDS include swollen lymph glands, night sweats, and extreme weakness.
Before the HIV virus leads to AIDS, symptoms may include headache, fever, and the development of a rash. Once the disease progresses, the effects of AIDS may also include swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, and coughing. Weight loss and diarrhea are also common at this stage of the disease. As the disease continues to progress, these symptoms often worsen, and new symptoms may begin to develop.
By the time that HIV turns into full-blown AIDS, serious damage to the immune system has occurred. As a result of the lowered immune system, new side effects of AIDS may begin to develop. These side effects may include a high fever that can last for several weeks at a time. Some people have trouble sleeping, often due to the occurrence of night sweats, which can be so severe that the bedding becomes soaked with sweat. White spots or sores often develop in the mouth or on the tongue.
Some of the effects of AIDS that develop during the final stages of the disease can be particularly devastating. The fatigue and shortness of breath may become severe, and swallowing may become difficult or painful. Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting can often lead to rapid weight loss. Seizures, confusion, and coordination and balance problems may become severe at this stage of the disease. Once the disease has reached this stage, the patient is particularly vulnerable to any type of infection, even the common cold.
Organ damage, organ failure, or fatal infections are possible effects of AIDS in the final stages. Due to the extremely compromised immune system, the body is not able to fight off foreign substances at this stage of the disease. These infections may cause damage to any of the vital organs of the body. In some cases, the infection can invade the bloodstream, leading to a life-threatening condition known as sepsis. Fortunately, advances in medical science mean that patients can often take medications that can sometimes delay many of the more devastating effects of AIDS.