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Dengue fever: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dengue fever

Dengue fever, also known as ‘break-bone’ fever is an acute, influenza-like infection caused by virus and transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterised by high fever, headache and skin rash.

Dengue fever: Incidence, age and sex

Dengue fever is one of the most common mosquito borne disease which may be commonly encountered in tropical and sub tropical regions. Dengue fever is fairly prevalent in certain regions of Asia and Africa. It can be seen in any age group but more frequent in young adults. No gender bias has yet been documented. It is mostly seen during rainy season when the Aedes mosquitoes breed.

Signs and symptoms of dengue fever: Diagnosis

The clinical features of dengue fever may appear 3 to 4 days after exposure and include high fever and severe headache. A flat skin rash may be seen all over the body typically 2 to 5 days after fever. Some individuals may complain of muscle and joint pain. Any joint of the body may be affected; however large joints like knee, shoulder joint are more commonly implicated. Other features include enlargement of lymph nodes and increased sensitivity of skin. Blood tests like serology tests, antibody titre and complete blood count may help in establishing the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of dengue fever

Dengue fever is caused by a virus which is carried from human to human through Aedes mosquito. This mosquito species usually breeds in stagnant water and is found abundantly in rainy season. This results in increased incidents of dengue fever during rains. Dengue fever is not contagious and does not spread from person to person. Preventive measures like wearing full sleeved clothes to avoid mosquito bites, using insect repellents and elimination of mosquito breeding sites may help in minimizing the transmission of virus.

Dengue fever: Complications

Dengue fever is generally a mild disease which is usually self-limiting. Occasionally, high fever in an individual may cause seizures and this phenomenon is more common in children. Severe dehydration has also been encountered in many individuals with dengue fever.

Very seldom, dengue fever, if ignored may result in a potentially fatal complication called ‘dengue haemorrhagic fever’ which is characterised by easy bruising and frequent episodes of bleeding from nose and mouth. Excessive bleeding can also result in death. Furthermore severe haemorrhagic fever may result in collapse of blood vessels, causing hypovolemic shock which may end in death.

Dengue fever: Treatment

Dengue fever is a self limiting viral infection which usually resolves on its own within a few days. There is no specific medication for its treatment. However medications like antipyretics may be prescribed for fever and malaise. Anti inflammatory medicines like NSAIDs should be avoided since they increase the likelihood of bleeding. Plenty of fluids are advised to prevent any dehydration. Such symptomatic and supportive measures are the cornerstone of management of dengue fever which has a good prognosis in most individuals.