Published on Sep 28, 2017 and last reviewed on Jan 18, 2022 - 4 min read
The monsoon season in tropical countries has brought back the next outbreak of dengue, creating fear and panic in people's minds. Read the article to know more.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease seen in tropical or subtropical areas. It is caused by a virus that belongs to the arbovirus group. Some of the common questions and answers about Dengue Fever are explained here.
The mosquito will get infected by biting a person with a dengue virus. This virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of this infected Aedes mosquito (also called the tiger mosquito) which grows in a freshwater habitat close to human dwellings. So, it is not surprising that 'dengue fear' surpasses all the other panic syndromes. Within a few days, the person starts experiencing severe headaches, backaches, and body aches. There may also be joint pains along with a high-grade fever and a typical rash. Dengue is a dehydrating fever with no known cure yet. Dengue, when it causes severe symptoms, is called dengue hemorrhagic fever.
The signs and symptoms of more severe dengue may involve:
Severe abdominal pain.
Persistent vomiting (with blood)
A vast majority of the public still does not realize the importance of hospitalization during the illness. While dengue by itself is not a dangerous disease, the improper management of the symptoms can be fatal. Supportive medications such as intravenous saline and antipyretics are used along with symptomatic care. Dengue fever may cause severe dehydration, dizziness, giddiness, and even syncopal falls, leading to injuries.
Dengue is a typical biphasic illness with distinct acute and chronic phases. In the acute phase, the fever lasts for a couple of days and subsides. But, the real panic starts after that. The platelet count begins to drop on the fourth day of the illness, with a progressive fall till the seventh day rising again spontaneously after that.
The diagnosis of dengue is again such a situation where patients are in a constant dilemma. Within the first three to four days, the dengue NS1 antigen test results are positive, and the antibodies start developing from the sixth day. This can lead to many patients with symptoms consistent with dengue being labeled falsely as negative. As per my clinical experience, there is no requirement for platelet transfusion in this illness as it causes more harm than good. One may consider a platelet transfusion when the count drops below 20,000/cubic mm along with clinical manifestations such as nasal bleed, blood in stools or urine. 95 % of the patients recover on their own without any additional supplements such as steroids injection given by some physicians.
Papaya leaves contain a mixture of nutrients and organic compounds. They contain a high level of vitamin C that can stimulate the immune system, and the antioxidants help reduce stress and remove toxins from the body. Many myths are doing the rounds regarding papaya leaf extracts, kiwi fruit, and goat milk for improving the platelet count in dengue fever. Since these have not been medically proven, they are not recommended for treatment. A reduced platelet count may not be the real danger sign in simple dengue fever. We must look for reduced urine production, giddiness, severe headaches, persistent vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, breathlessness, and ominous signs.
Dengue shock syndrome is characterized by petechiae (tiny spots of blood on the skin) and ecchymosis (large patches of blood under the skin). Unaware of dengue, many people take fever medicines for prolonged periods and land up in a shock-like state, injuring their internal organs, such as kidneys. With proper IV fluid resuscitation, they do show good recovery. This type of shock may cause death within 12 to 24 hours.
Not every patient needs to be hospitalized after being diagnosed with dengue fever. The mild cases can be effectively managed at home if the patient ensures rehydration with different means - ORS (oral rehydration salts), juice, plenty of water, as well as adequate rest and fever medicines.
But, I must draw your attention to those severe cases which, despite good treatment, show signs of complications and even succumb to their illness due to multiorgan failure even after being treated at the best intensive care setup. One may not identify those unlucky individuals. Hence prevention stands up to be the best protective measure.
Immunity against dengue is another wonderful phenomenon. Contrary to our belief, a previous episode of dengue will not impart good protective immunity. The second episode of dengue may turn more dangerous due to some immune-complex mechanisms.
So one must understand that dengue still remains a dramatic illness with variable clinical presentations and unexpected results. So, stop panicking and act smartly to avoid untoward consequences.
Tips to protect yourself from dengue fever include:
Wear protective clothing (full sleeve dress) to prevent mosquito bites.
Mosquito repellents can be used to avoid mosquito bites.
Use a mosquito net.
Avoid non-vegetarian food.
Avoid oily food and a heavy diet.
Avoid spicy foods because they can cause acidity in the stomach and lead to ulcers and damage the wall.
People with dengue fever should always be hydrated, but caffeinated beverages are not the way to go.
In developing countries with a tropical climate, the death toll due to seasonal outbreaks of infectious diseases is on the rise. The hospital wards are full of patients diagnosed with various tropical infections, and dengue surpasses them all. Its prevalence is much higher than the data provided by healthcare departments, as many of the cases go unreported due to a lack of public awareness.
In case of dengue fever -
- Do not take Aspirin or Ibrufen to treat fever.
- Do not take steroids.
- Do not undergo blood transfusions unless indicated.
- Avoid getting further mosquito bites.
- Avoid getting intravenous therapies unless indicated by the doctor.
- Be sure to consult the doctor.
To recover from dengue relatively fast -
- One should consult a doctor at the earliest on developing symptoms.
- Take as much rest as possible.
- Take Acetaminophen or Paracetamol in case of fever and pain.
- Drink a lot of fluids and stay hydrated. Take water with added electrolytes to maintain the electrolyte balance.
- If the symptoms become severe, the doctor should be notified as soon as possible.
Dengue cannot be fully cured in three days. Mild dengue cases can be fixed within a week without prevailing health issues. It could take around a week for the body to feel normal again after all the symptoms have subsided.
Foods that are rich in proteins and iron help in recovering one from dengue fever. Such foods prevent anemia and also strengthen the immune system. Foods such as meats, eggs, fish, liver, milk, dairy products, beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, water, coconut water, and natural fruit juices help recover faster from dengue fever.
The recovery starts six days after the illness. The condition of the patient starts becoming better. The patient begins to pass urine a lot and has no fever. The vital signs, such as the pulse, heartbeat, and blood pressure, start normalizing, though the heart rate can still be slow. The gastrointestinal symptoms begin to get better, and the person starts to feel hungry.
Itching in dengue can be relieved by -
- Massaging with coconut oil.
- A few washed tulsi leaves applied on the area can relieve itching.
- Aloe vera application can help to soothe the skin and also relieve itching.
- Raw, organic apple cider vinegar also soothes itchy skin.
The platelet count in dengue drops by the fourth day of the disease. The platelets are cells that are responsible for blood clotting. When there is a platelet decrease, problems arise with blood clotting. In adults, the platelet counts decrease slightly from the third to the seventh day of the condition.
Dengue can be prevented by -
- Using a mosquito repellant.
- Wearing long-sleeved clothes and full pants.
- Keeping control of mosquito infestation inside and outside one's home.
- Using a mosquito net while sleeping.
- Not letting water stagnate.
- Keeping the house well-ventilated.
- These ways could avoid mosquito bites, thus keeping dengue at bay.
One has a greater risk of getting dengue fever if one lives or travels in tropical areas. Tropical and subtropical area increases one's risk of mosquito exposure. Kids older than 6 years of age are more likely to get infected.
Dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms, which persist for two to seven days. The fever occurs after an incubation period of four to ten days after the mosquito bite of the infected mosquito. The fever is usually high, around 104 degrees F, and is accompanied by a headache. One in twenty people with dengue develops severe dengue after fading of the symptoms.
The warning signs and symptoms of dengue include -
- Pain or tenderness in the abdomen.
- Continuous vomiting.
- Accumulation of fluid in the body.
- Bleeding from the gums, nose, and under the skin.
- Extreme tiredness.
- Enlargement of the liver.
- Rapid decrease in the platelet count.
The dengue virus is deactivated by the body's immune system. The immune system of one's body produces antibodies against the dengue virus to kill them. The immune system activates the body's defense system, the white blood cells, to attack the virus and eventually remove them from the body.
The Aedes mosquitoes causing dengue fever are most active around two hours after sunrise and many hours before sunset. However, it can also bite at night in well-lighted areas. The mosquito bites people from the back side without getting noticed. It usually bites on the ankles and elbows.
A dengue vaccine has been approved for use in kids aged 9 to 16 years with previous dengue infection and living in dengue epidemic areas such as certain U.S territories and associated states. Currently, there is no vaccination for dengue in India.
No, dengue does not spread by touch. However, a person infected with the dengue virus can infect other mosquitoes, making them carry infections to other individuals. Th dengue virus enters the person's bloodstream after getting bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. Then, the dengue virus circulates and reproduces within the individual's body.
Last reviewed at:
18 Jan 2022 - 4 min read
Can we identify dengue fever without lab tests?
Query: Hi, My son is a 5 year old boy. He had high fever two days back and the temperature touched 104.9. We have been giving Meftal and Paracetamol for the last two days with water bath to bring the fever down. We have also been giving Zifi 100 twice a day as prescribed by our physician. This has helped t... Read Full »
My sister got dengue fever for the second time. Is she in danger?
Query: Hi doctor, My sister has been suffering from dengue for the past four days. She has got this fever for the second time now. The first time being eight years ago. Her platelet count today is 2.6 lakhs, PCV is 34 and WBC TC is 1900. She is being given saline along with Sumol, Ondem, Levazeo and Milk o... Read Full »
My platelet count is low but tested negative for dengue. Did I test too early?
Query: Hi doctor, I am a 25 year old female, who weighs 24 kg and 5.3 feet tall. I have had a fever since last week. The fever was between 38 to 40o C. I also had headaches and lower back pain. Today I got tested for dengue, but that was negative. However, on my torso, neck, and face, there are these red r... Read Full »
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