Noma (Cancrum Oris) is a destructive and disfiguring disease that affects the tissues of the mouth and face. This disease has affinity for children who are not eating well, live in poor communities, have low body immunity, and do not take care of their mouth very well. However, this disease can affect just anyone.

People who are dehydrated, not eating well, have low body immunity or are very sick may get attacked by noma. HIV/AIDS, measles, malaria, cyclic neutropenia, herpetic stomatitis, leukemia, Down’s syndrome, and Burkett’s disease are some of the health challenges that may increase the risk of contracting noma.

The disease begins like an innocent sore in the mouth, which causes the face of the sufferer to swell up. It then progresses rapidly to perforate the cheek on the affected part of the mouth and may also progress to ‘gain more grounds’ around the face of the sufferer, destroying the soft and hard tissues of the mouth and face within a few days.

To prevent noma, improve diet, live away from animals, treat diseases and other health problems, improve oral hygiene, and get vaccinated against immune-suppressing ailments. Treatment of noma may include blood transfusion, intravenous infusions, antibiotics, a high protein diet, supplements, debridement of necrotic areas, scrupulous oral hygiene, and surgery.

If the disease is not treated early and properly, most people who contract noma may die from it (85%). Persons who survive noma may have impaired speech, breathing, chewing, or vision because of the extent of the destruction that noma causes. Often, facial disfigurement is also a huge challenge with survivors, and they may suffer stigmatization and isolation from family members and the society at large because of this.

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