308 HIV and AIDS
Mental confusion (dementia)
Some mental confusion or other mental changes are
common among people with AIDS, especially if a person has
been sick for a long time. Mental confusion with a headache
that does not go away, stiff neck and fever can be signs of a
brain infection. Seek help immediately. Confusion can also be
a side effect of ART or other medicines (see page 478).
With some illnesses, and in the later stages of AIDS (and other
serious illnesses like cancer), pain may be severe. It may become
a part of daily life. Pain can be caused by many things, such as:
• not being able to move.
• infections, like herpes.
• pressure sores (see page 142). • headache.
• swelling of the legs and feet.
• nerve pains.
Treatment for pain, without medicines:
• Try relaxation exercises, meditation, or prayer (see page 423).
• Try to think about other things.
• Play music, or have someone read aloud or tell stories.
• For pain from swelling in the hands and feet, try raising the
• For a burning feeling in the hands and feet caused by nerve
pain, put the body part in water.
• For skin that hurts to touch, line the bed with soft covers and
pillows or animal skins. Be gentle when touching the person.
➤ Pain medicines
work best if you take
them before the pain
gets very bad.
medicines for pain
• For headache, keep the room dark and quiet.
• Acupressure may help some kinds of pain (see page 542).
Treatment for pain, with medicines:
The following medicines may be used to control pain that
comes day after day (chronic pain). Take the medicines regularly,
according to instructions. If you wait until the pain has become
very bad, the medicines will work less well.
• mild pain medicine, like paracetamol
• ibuprofen or codeine—if you need something stronger
• oral morphine—if the pain is very bad
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012