Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can HIV cause congestion?"
I know this will sound strange but I need answers. I'm a gay man and I'm worried I was exposed to HIV about a week ago. Apparently the HIV test can't actually tell me whether I have it for a few months. I do feel kind of sick, though. I'm really congested. Could this be caused by HIV? Is there another kind of test I can take?
Anytime patients are worried about exposure to HIV, it can cause a significant amount of anxiety. Of course, I cannot give you the answer as to whether you were exposed or not, but I can give you information on what the early stages of HIV are typically like. The Acute HIV Syndrome (AKA the Acute Retroviral Syndrome) is a flu-like illness that occurs between 2 and 4 weeks after exposure. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and muscle soreness. One week would be early for the ARS to present, but not unheard of. The symptom of congestion is on the list of possibilities, but this is fairly non-specific. The symptoms then last for up to 2 weeks and resolve. Most patients that are exposed to HIV get this syndrome. I would suggest a couple things. Start with using condoms for every sexual encounter. This will give you a piece of mind that you are protecting yourself. Second schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to get checked out. He or she will not be able to tell you whether you have HIV or not, but they may be able to evaluate you for any other cause for your symptoms. Plus you can get additional counseling on HIV prevention strategies. In a few months, you can get the HIV test. Good luck.
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