In the past two decades, dengue has been identified as one of the most prevalent illnesses in the world. Just what is it, and how do humans become infected with this crippling disease? In this article, we’ll take a look at everything there is to know about the disease, including dengue fever symptoms and treatment.
What is dengue?
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, dengue is a disease carried by mosquitoes. It can be passed on to a human’s bloodstream when a mosquito carrying the dengue virus sucks blood from any part of the human body.
Dengue only occurs in tropical and subtropical countries, since mosquitoes cannot live in cold, dry environments. Though the disease is most common in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands, it has been spreading rapidly in areas such as Latin America and the Caribbean.
What are the types and forms of dengue?
Based on research gathered by WebMD experts, when someone is infected with dengue, he or she immediately goes into a very high fever. High fever is one of the most common signs of dengue. Taking paracetamol or other medicine for fever only works temporarily, but the fever always returns and usually clocks at 39 degrees Celsius. Accompanying symptoms also include, skin rash, severe pain in the head and muscles, with possibilities of encountering shaking chills, diarrhea, and vomiting, and extreme fatigue even months after the first few symptoms have set in.
Other forms of dengue fever include “Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever” and “Dengue Shock Syndrome”. This is brought about by an infection of what scientists call type 2 dengue virus. The same experts from WebMD observed that secondary symptoms, aside from the ones mentioned above, appear: fever, bleeding under the skin, red spots on the legs, and bleeding into the intestines. In very extreme cases, a high drop in blood pressure occurs. Sometimes, dengue is powerful enough to even cause death.
An online report done by medical experts noted that dengue fever has many names, including, but not limited to:
- Breakbone Fever
- Dandy Fever
- Seven Day Fever, Dengue Type
What are the common dengue fever symptoms?
Since fever is one of the most common reactions of the body to bacterial infections, it is hard to pin down dengue as the cause. One of the signs of dengue to watch out for is if a fever lasts for more than 2 days, like 5 to 7 days. Check also if the fever is high, usually remaining steady at 39 degrees Celsius, or much higher if cases are severe.
One way of checking if dengue is in your system is through a blood platelet count. A significant drop from the normal levels is almost always associated with a dengue infection.
If you are experiencing a sudden high fever, bring up your travel history to the doctor, advises the Mayo Clinic staff. If you recently came from a tropical country, or any of the other areas mentioned above, then that may be an indicator of how you got the dengue.
Common dengue signs and symptoms include:
- Sudden high fever
- Pain behind the eyes
- Severe headaches
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Skin rashes, which appear 2 to 5 days after the fever’s onset
- Loss of appetite
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding gums
- Bone pain
- Abdominal pain
Sometimes, dengue fever symptoms are mild and can be mistaken for those of the flu or another viral infection. Younger children and people who have never had dengue before tend to have milder cases than adults and people who’ve previously contracted it.
If prevention of dengue is not achieved, serious problems can develop such as dengue hemorrhagic fever. This is an uncommon complication characterized by high fever, bleeding from the nose and gums, damage to lymph and blood vessels, failure of the circulatory system, and enlargement of the liver. The dengue fever symptoms may progress to shock, massive bleeding, and even death.
People with subsequent dengue infection or weakened immune systems are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Dengue Fever Treatment
There is no specific cure for dengue. Most patients are advised to get bed rest and drink lots of fluids. You may take painkillers, but do not take medicine for fever and muscle pain, as they may increase the risk of bleeding, advises WebMD experts.
Prevention of Dengue
While there isn’t a specific medicine for dengue fever treatment, you can prevent yourself from contracting the disease. This involves protecting yourself from mosquitoes and reducing the mosquito population in your area. Examples would be getting rid of places in your house where mosquitos can breed such as old tires, flower pots that collect rain, and cans.
To protect yourself, make sure to use mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors. Check that all door and window screens are secure and free of holes. If the windows and doors do not have screen, use a mosquito net.
If someone in your home contracts dengue, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Be vigilant about protecting yourself and other family members from mosquitoes. The infection could easily spread from the infected family member to another through mosquito bites.