Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and more

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Dengue fever is a type of illness that spreads when a virus-carrying mosquito (Aedes mosquito) bites a person. It is a major health concern in many parts of India, especially in the Northern regions. The rainy season which starts in June and lasts till August is the most season for dengue fever. Moreover, the incidences of dengue have been rising in recent years. As per the report of WHO, each year, there are more than 100-400 million infections around the world. Also, unlike chickenpox, dengue fever can happen to a person multiple times in his life.

Symptoms of dengue fever

Symptoms do not begin as soon as you get bitten by a dengue mosquito. Usually, a person begins to experience a few symptoms 4-6 days after infection. Some may have mild symptoms while others may experience extreme deterioration of health conditions. However, some commonly seen symptoms include:

  • High fever– It begins 4 days after you have been bitten by a dengue mosquito.
  • Nausea– You may feel nauseated quite often, especially in the mornings.
  • Vomiting– Continuous vomiting may cause dengue shock syndrome and lead to dehydration.
  • Rashes– Red rashes may appear 2 to 10 days after fever starts and it may look like measles.
  • Tiredness– You may develop extreme fatigue and may find it difficult even to walk around.
  • Bad headaches– People with dengue fever have reported to experience intense and throbbing headaches.
  • Body pain– Along with above symptoms, you may also feel extreme pain in your joints, bones and muscles.

Symptoms that may require hospitalization:

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Feeling extremely lazy, tired, restless, etc.
  • Very low platelets count
  • Internal bleeding
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Frequent fainting

Causes of dengue fever

The major cause of dengue fever is a mosquito infected with dengue virus. When this virus-carrying mosquito bites you, the virus enters the blood and replicates itself. If your immune system is weak, the virus may spread quickly and make you very sick. This dengue virus destroys your body’s capabilities to clot your blood and can lead to internal bleeding.

Transmission of dengue virus

Dengue is spread by Aedes mosquitos. This is the same mosquito that also carries viruses such as Zika and chikungunya. If this mosquito bites an infected person and then bites someone else, they too may get dengue fever. However, it should be noted that dengue fever isn’t contagious and doesn’t spread from one person to another.

Diagnosis of dengue fever

The diagnosis begins by taking a blood sample to confirm that the person is infected with dengue virus. Moreover, your healthcare provider will also ask various questions regarding your symptoms and treatments that you have already taken.

Treatment of dengue fever

As such, there is no medicine to treat dengue fever. However, the symptoms of dengue fever can be managed using certain medications. These symptoms are treated at home with some pain medicines and fever reducers.

Managing dengue symptoms at home

  • Drink lots of water and other fluids to keep the body hydrated
  • Take proper rest as the body needs to preserve energy to fight against the viruses.
  • Take medicines only after consulting a qualified healthcare professional
  • Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen as they thin your blood and may cause internal bleeding.

Protecting yourself from dengue mosquito bites

  • Use mosquito repellents
  • Cover the arms and legs when you go out
  • Do not water accumulate in and around you for too long
  • Keep windows closed

Is there a vaccine available for dengue?

Yes, there is a vaccine available in the market but it is recommended only if you have a history of dengue fever. The vaccine reduces the risk of developing severe symptoms such as hemorrhagic fever, incase a different serotype of dengue bites you in the future.

However, if you get vaccinated without having a history of dengue, you may get sicker during your first dengue fever as there is a chance that you may get bitten by a different version of dengue. Hence, a blood test is necessary to determine the type of dengue virus before administering the vaccine.

Certain facts about dengue fever

  • It occurs mainly in subtropical and tropical regions of the world such as Africa, Middle Eastern countries, Asia, etc.
  • Dengue mosquitos thrive in urban areas, in clean and stagnant water.
  • You can be infected with dengue virus more than once in your life. There are 4 serotypes of dengue i.e. DENV1, DENV2, DENV3, DENV4 and therefore, a person may get infected 4 times. However, if you develop dengue the second time, it may cause severe symptoms and may require hospitalization.
  • There is no specific medicine to cure dengue as such, only the symptoms can be managed.
  • Medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin must be avoided as they thin your blood and your risk of hemorrhage may increase.
  • If you are pregnant and suffering from dengue fever, it may lead to miscarriage, premature birth, etc.

Keep in mind that millions of people around the world get dengue every year but most cases aren’t that serious and symptoms are easily managed at home. However, if left untreated, dengue may prove to be fatal and can require hospitalization. Hence, it is necessary that you seek immediate help from a qualified healthcare professional as soon you get to know about your situation.

Disclaimer

This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise. 

 

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