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Oct 2023

Dengue fever: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted By Suborna Fermi Posted on Oct 18, 2023

Dengue is a severe mosquito-borne disease that spreads through the mosquitoes of Aedes aegypti species. The viruses that cause dengue are related to those that cause yellow fever and West Nile infection. Every year, nearly 400 million cases of dengue infection occur worldwide. Dengue is mostly common in tropical regions, including India, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and others.

The symptoms of dengue range from mild to severe. Severe dengue may cause internal bleeding and hemorrhagic fever. Pregnant women and infants are at risk of developing a severe dengue infection, which can be lethal. Although dengue does not spread from person to person, pregnant women can transmit the infection to their babies.

What are the symptoms of dengue?

Dengue symptoms generally appear 4 to 10 days after getting infected with the virus. Most people experience mild symptoms, and they can easily get mistaken for the flu or other infections. Generally, the symptoms last for two to seven days. The most common symptoms include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Chronic headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The symptoms of severe dengue include:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting (three times in 24 hours)
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums

What causes dengue?

Four types of viruses cause dengue fever. All four viruses transmit through the mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti, and sometimes, the Aedes albopictus species. A mosquito carrying the virus can pass it on to humans by biting them. When another mosquito bites the infected person, then the mosquito passes the virus to another person it bites.

How is dengue diagnosed?

Dengue is diagnosed with a simple blood test. Some tests also help determine which of the four viruses you are infected with. There are mainly two types of dengue tests, such as:

  • Antibody test: This test helps detect antibodies to dengue virus in your blood sample. Doctors generally suggest this test within 4 days of experiencing symptoms.
  • Molecular test: This type of test looks for the genetic materials from the virus in the blood sample. PCR is a type of molecular test that is recommended within 7 days of experiencing symptoms.

How is dengue treated?

The treatment of dengue includes managing the symptoms. Here are a few ways in which you can manage the dengue symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Use pain relief medicines like Paracetamol or Tylenol to reduce fever

Doctors generally do not recommend taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin and ibuprofen), as they can increase the risk of internal bleeding. In some cases, doctors may advise hospitalization, IV fluid supplementation, and blood and platelet transfusions. Without treatment, dengue can be fatal.

How can I prevent dengue?

The best way to prevent dengue is through vaccination. Getting vaccinated against dengue can protect you from all four types of dengue viruses. Here are a few ways in which you can protect yourself from mosquito bites:

  • Wear full-sleeves clothes
  • Use mosquito repellents
  • Use mosquito nets
  • Try to use door screens
  • Remove stagnant water around the house
  • Try to avoid being outside at dawn

Dengue can cause severe reactions if left undiagnosed. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms that could be due to a dengue infection, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent complications.