Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Home Remedies, Prevention and Cure
Dengue Fever (a.k.a: Break Bone Fever) is mosquito-borne disease and most commonly caused by Aedes egypti. It is a severe, acute infection and characterized by flu-like symptoms. It is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), there are 50 to 100 million cases per year and among them 22000 deaths occur. The incidence and mortality rate is high in children when compared to adults.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquito bite. Dengue virus has four strains and dengue fever can be caused any of the four types. It is prevalent during the months of July to November. There is no vaccination available against dengue fever. Early diagnosis is the key for effective treatment and quick recovery.
What Causes Dengue Fever?
Dengue Fever is caused by one of four closely related viruses of genus Flavivirus. When an Aedes egypti mosquito bites a dengue infected person, it ingests dengue virus along with blood. In mosquito, the virus incubates for 8 to 10 days. After the incubation, if the mosquito bites a healthy person, the person gets infected with dengue. In about 4 to 10 days, the symptoms start to appear in the infected person.
The dengue virus is typically infected in the early morning and before the dusk as the Aedes species mosquitoes are highly active at that time.
Dengue virus can also transmit from mother to baby if mother is infected with dengue virus during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever:
Symptoms range from mild to severe and worsen with the disease progression. Symptoms that appear in the early stages are:
- Fever and chills
- Muscle and joint pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain behind the eye
Symptoms that appear in later stages are:
- Severe stomach pain
- Persistent severe vomiting
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Nose bleeds and gum bleed
- Low back pain
Risk Factors of Dengue Fever:
All age groups are at equal risk for dengue fever. However, infection is severe in infants and young children. Previous history of dengue increases the risk and the infection becomes during the secondary infection. Unlike other infections, dengue virus doesn’t produce lifelong immunity, but the immunity lasts only for a shorter period. Other risk factors contributing to dengue fever are:
- Living in or traveling to tropical or subtropical areas
- Compromised or weak immune system
- Chronic infections such as diabetes
Complications of Dengue Fever:
Neurologic complications such as seizures, residual brain damage, and encephalopathy can be observed. Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is the most serious complication that includes severe episodes of bleeding. Hepatomegaly (enlargement of liver) and cardiomyopathy (heart disease) may also occur in severe cases. Other complications that may appear are:
- Fluid accumulation
- Severe plasma leakage
- Respiratory distress
- Severe bleeding
- Hypotensive shock
Diagnosis of Dengue Fever:
The healthcare provider enquires about medical and travel history initially and also performs a physical examination to assess the signs and symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of dengue fever mimic other infectious conditions such as flu and malaria. Therefore, tests are very essential to confirm the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests recommended for dengue are:
Complete Blood Count: The blood tests show rapid decrease in platelet count or thrombocytopenia (<1 lakh/cmm) and increase in hematocrit.
Reverse Transcriptase: Polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test: Virus is isolated from serum or plasma and the virus genome is identified using PCR test.
Serology Tests: This test helps to identify the antibodies. Serum, blood, or saliva can serve as samples for identification of antibody. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can be performed to detect antibodies. Presence of IgM antibodies may indicate dengue fever.
Treatments for Dengue Fever:
Dengue fever is self-limiting and there is no specific antiviral therapy to treat dengue fever. The treatment focuses on to treat the symptoms. Take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve pain. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen as these medications can worsen symptoms.
Supportive therapy is given in most of the cases to avoid further complications. Therapy includes:
Intravenous (IV) Therapy: IV fluids are administered if there is sign of bleeding or hemorrhage. It helps in replacing lost fluids and electrolytes.
Blood Transfusion: Blood transfusion is given if there is severe bleeding and highly decreased hematocrit.
Oxygen is provided if the patient is in state of shock.
As there is no specific therapy for dengue, except in serious cases, following certain remedies can help in speedy recovery. Home remedies are easy to follow as they are easily available. Remedies and foods that can help to cure dengue fever are:
- Drink plenty of water and fluids such as soups and juices.
- Take adequate bed rest.
- Consume healthy diet.
- Take papaya leaves extract in the form of tea as it can increase platelet count.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any new symptom.
Prevention and Cure for Dengue Fever:
Preventing the mosquito bite is the only best measure to prevent dengue fever. Measures that help in preventing mosquito bite are:
- Use aerosols during day time to prevent mosquito bite.
- Use mosquito nets, coils, and repellants while sleeping. Avoid exposure of repellants to the bare skin.
- Wear long sleeved and loose clothes during daytime.
- Make sure there is no stagnant water around the house as mosquitoes breed in standing waters.
- Maintain hygiene in and around the house.
- Keep screens for doors and windows.
1.Does dengue fever require hospitalization?
Hospitalization is required if there are any complications. Uncomplicated cases are managed in outpatient department by providing symptomatic treatment.
2.How long does dengue fever last in the body?
Dengue fever lasts for 10 to 15 days. However, you may need to take adequate rest for few days for complete recovery.
3.What are the long term effects of dengue fever?
Some patients may experience muscle ache, joint pain, and hair loss for few days to weeks even after the recovery from dengue fever.12