This article has been authored by Dr. Zeenat Ahmed, who is Consultant – Internal Medicine, at Jaypee Hospital Noida. Dr. Zeenat completed MD (Internal Medicine) from S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack. She has worked as a senior registrar in Sadarjung Hospital and G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi. She has done a fellowship in diabetes from MVDRC, Chennai.. To know more about Dr. Zeenat or book an appointment, please call 0120 – 412 2222
At least half a million people are hospitalized due to dengue every year. Most of the cases are detected in a later stage because patients assume the fever to be viral infection or flu. Lack of awareness is the major cause of complications arising in dengue which can also be fatal. It is important that people understand what causes dengue, its symptoms and preventive steps to avoid it.
Dengue is an infection causes by a virus and spread by the aedes mosquito. The mosquito carries the virus in its blood and transfers it into humans when sucking blood.
Once you are bitten by the mosquito the virus takes another 4-7 days for incubation and the symptoms then begin to show. However, you might begin to experience slight body ache, slight fever within 3 days too. This is where you have to note the symptoms and take immediate steps for treatment. Look out for the exact signs as mentioned and take necessary actions:
Dengue fever is usually high ranging from 102°F to 105°F. This fever will last up to 4-5 days and subside. But around 6th day, which is considered as the most dangerous time in the dengue infection, the fever can rebound alongwith a drastic decline in the platelet count.
The patient has to monitor the fever every day and within three days after the onset of symptoms, see a doctor.
- Alongwith fever the patient will experience severe headache, joint & muscle pain and also pain behind the eyes, fatigue and general weakness.
- The joint and muscle pain would reach to such an extent that the patient will experience difficulty in walking and maintaining a posture. This is why dengue fever is also known as break bone fever
- Rashes will begin to appear on face, stomach and other areas of skin from 3rd or 4th day after onset of fever. In initial stage the rashes will not itch but as they spread to the palms and feet, there could be itching.
- Watch out for signs of unusual bleeding. The dengue virus can alter the blood flow and there could be bleeding of gums and nose. Altered blood flow can be seen from redness of eyes and soreness in throat.
- There could be difference taste sensation, weight loss, nasal stuffiness and swelling in the lymph nodes.
Recovery from dengue starts after the 7th day and is complete by the 10th day. Within this period there is a risk of bacterial infection because the immunity of the patient is drastically low. This increases the complications in dengue.After the 10th day there is a convalescent phase of 2 weeks and it is crucial that you continue the prescribed medication to boost immunity and maintain the fighting mechanism of your body.
Doctor can immediately recognise a dengue infection from the symptoms and look of the patient. But to confirm he would suggest blood test to identify the antibodies and also to know the platelet count.
If not detected early, dengue can be fatal and cause shock and multi-organ failure. It is advisable that each person in the family has awareness about dengue.