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Dengue Fever? Do Not Panic! | Home Remedies for Dengue

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Dengue Fever? Do Not Panic! | Home Remedies for Dengue

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Dengue is a disease caused by a virus and is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At September 28, 2017
Reviewed AtNovember 3, 2023

Introduction

Dengue fever spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes species. Dengue outbreak most commonly occurs during rainy seasons. Research has shown that about 400 million people get infected with dengue every year of which about 80 percent are asymptomatic. Dengue does not spread from one person to another but can spread from a pregnant mother to her child. Symptoms are normally mild when a person gets infected for the first time but a consecutive infection with a different variant of dengue virus can elevate the risk of severe complications.

How Is Dengue Fever Caused?

  • Dengue is caused by any one of the four dengue viruses. The virus can make its way into the bloodstream of humans through a bite of an infected mosquito and multiply inside the body.

  • This virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of the infected Aedes mosquito (also called the tiger mosquito) which thrives in freshwater habitats close to human dwellings.

  • The Aedes mosquito can also carry viruses like Chikungunya and Zika. Once infected, the person starts experiencing severe headaches, backaches, and body aches within a few days.

  • There may also be joint pains accompanied by 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.

Is Dengue a Serious Disease?

A vast majority of the public still needs to realize the importance of hospitalization during an ailment. While dengue by itself is not a dangerous disease, the improper management of the symptoms can prove to be fatal. Supportive medications such as the administration of intravenous saline and antipyretics (drugs that either reduce or prevent fever) are used combined with symptomatic care. Dengue fever can result in severe dehydration, dizziness, giddiness, and even syncopal falls (fainting), leading to injuries.

Dengue is a typical biphasic illness with distinct acute and chronic phases. In the acute phase, the fever lasts 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.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dengue Fever?

The onset of symptoms is normally between four to 10 days following a mosquito bite and can persist for three to seven days. The signs and symptoms include the following:

  • High fever (104 degree fahrenheit or 40 degree celsius).

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Rash.

  • Severe headache.

  • Pain in the posterior portion of the eyes.

  • Swollen glands.

  • Pain in the muscle and joints.

The symptoms of severe dengue can pervade within 24 to 48 hours after the fever goes off. These symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain.

  • Rapid breathing.

  • Persistent vomiting.

  • Fatigue.

  • Bleeding nose or gums.

  • Restlessness.

  • Being extremely thirsty.

  • Presence of blood in stools or vomit.

  • Feeling weak.

  • Cold and pale skin.

How to Diagnose Dengue?

Dengue fever can be diagnosed with the help of a blood test. The acquired blood is sent to the laboratory to test for the presence of dengue virus. Within the first three to four days after the infection, 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.

What Are the Home Remedies for Dengue?

The following are a few home remedies:

Drink Plenty of Water: Excessive dehydration can occur in dengue. Hence, it is important to drink plenty of water to keep oneself hydrated and replenished. Staying hydrated can also minimize the symptoms of muscle cramps and headaches. Water also helps to flush out excess toxins from the body.

Papaya Leaves: Papaya leaves are considered to be a natural remedy for dengue fever. The leaves are a blend of organic compounds and nutrients that help elevate the platelet count. It is also rich in Vitamin C and this Vitamin C helps stimulate the immune system and the antioxidants aid in removing the toxins from the body. Papaya leaves can simply be crushed and the juice can be strained from the crushed leaves.

Chewing Basil Leaves: Basil leaves not only act as a remedy for dengue but also enhance the overall immunity of the individual. Chewing five to six basil leaves can improve immunity and is considered an effective and beneficial ayurvedic treatment for dengue fever. Also, basil leaves contain essential oils with natural insecticidal properties that keep away mosquitoes.

Neem Leaves: Neem leaves are laden with medicinal properties and are preferred in the treatment of various ailments. Properly brewed neem leaves increase the white blood cell count, and platelet count, and improve the immune system if one suffers from dengue.

Orange Juice: Being rich in vitamins and antioxidants, oranges aid in the treatment of the secondary symptoms of dengue. It also aids in the elimination of dengue virus. It also enhances the action of antibodies produced by the immune system and increases urination which helps to eliminate the toxins from the body. Orange juice is also efficient in repairing the body cells as Vitamin C plays an important role in the manufacture of collagen.

What Is Dengue Shock Syndrome?

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 (Intravenous) fluid resuscitation, they show signs of a good recovery. This type of shock may cause death within 12 to 24 hours.

Is Hospitalization Necessary for Dengue?

Not every patient needs to be hospitalized if they are diagnosed with dengue fever. The mild cases can be effectively managed at home if the patient keeps themselves rehydrated through different sources like ORS (oral rehydration salts), juice, drinking plenty of water, and taking adequate rest and medicines to control fever.

But, severe cases despite good treatment, show signs of complications and suffer from multiorgan failure even after being treated in an intensive care setup. Hence, prevention stands up to be the best protective measure.

What Are the Foods to Be Avoided While Having Dengue Fever?

  • The foods to be avoided are as follows:

  • Non-vegetarian food must be avoided.

  • Oily foods and a heavy diet must be avoided.

  • Spicy foods can cause acidity in the stomach and result in ulcers and can damage the wall. Hence, one must refrain from eating spicy foods.

  • People with dengue fever should always be hydrated, but caffeinated beverages are not indicated.

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. One must understand that dengue still remains a dramatic illness with variable clinical presentations and unexpected results. So, one must not panic and instead act smartly to avoid untoward consequences.

How to Protect Oneself From Dengue Fever?

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. One must understand that dengue still remains a dramatic illness with variable clinical presentations and unexpected results. So, one must not panic and instead act smartly to avoid untoward consequences.

Tips to protect oneself from dengue fever include:

  • Protective clothing like a full-sleeve dress can be worn to prevent mosquito bites.

  • Mosquito repellents and mosquito nets can be used to avoid mosquito bites.

  • EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20-30 percent DEET or other ingredients can be used to protect oneself from the attack of the dengue-causing mosquito.

  • Standing water in buckets, old tires, and bird baths should be cleared. Low spots where water can stagnate should be filled.

  • Holes in screens should be repaired and windows and doors should be kept closed.

  • Pregnant ladies and even other individuals should refrain from traveling to dengue-prone zones.

  • One can take a dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia only if one has been affected by dengue previously. One must not get vaccinated without a previous history of dengue as it can make one prone to acquire severe dengue. Vaccines can minimize the risk of acquiring severe dengue (dengue hemorrhagic fever) if one gets affected by a different variant of the dengue virus in the future.

Conclusion

In developing countries with tropical climates, 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 unnoticed due to poor public awareness. Hence, timely management and following certain preventive measures can keep one safe from the impact of dengue

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Should One Not Do in Dengue Fever?

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.

2.

How to Quickly Recover From Dengue?

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.

3.

Is Dengue Fever Cured in Three Days?

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.

4.

Which Foods Can Help Curing Dengue Fever?

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.

5.

What Are the Recovery Symptoms of Dengue?

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.

6.

How To Relieve Itching in Dengue?

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.

7.

When Do Platelets Decrease in Dengue?

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.

8.

How Can One Prevent Getting Dengue?

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.

9.

Who Can Be at Risk for Dengue?

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.

10.

What Is the Duration of Dengue Fever?

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.

11.

What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Dengue?

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.

12.

How Does the Dengue Virus Get Killed?

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.

13.

What Time of the Day Are the Dengue Mosquitoes Active?

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.

14.

Does Dengue Fever Have Any Vaccine?

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.

15.

Can Dengue Spread by Touch?

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.
Dr. Dipak Sopan Patade
Dr. Dipak Sopan Patade

General Practitioner

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