What is Dengue Fever, its symptoms, treatment and preventions?

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Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease which is more likely to turn life-threatening, if not cured in time. As compared to the rest of the world, the cases of dengue are at least 70 percent more in the Western Pacific South-East Asia. In the Caribbean and Latin America, the numbers of dengue cases are rapidly increasing. The severity of the disease has almost made the disease untreatable, resulting in the death of a large number of people. In fact, European countries are also not safe from this plague. At least two European countries have been reported to have dealt with this disease back in the year 2010 – the same year when the outbreak of the disease in Pakistan created a wave of fear and unrest in the country. In Pakistan, 21,580 dengue cases have been reported since 2010. Hundreds of people in the country’s major cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, are suffering from this disease.

What is Dengue Fever and How it is Different from Regular Flu

The life-threatening disease of dengue is basically a viral infection that is transmitted into a human’s body when an infected female mosquito Aedes bites a person. It takes an average of seven days for symptoms to become visible. It is a flu-like disease and often its symptoms resemble that of regular flu. The aspect of overlapping symptoms is the main reason for a large number of people dismissing the disease as regular flu, leading to the increased intensity of the disease. Despite being a flu-like disease, dengue has a mortality rate much higher than a number of other mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria. So before we move on and differentiate dengue from regular flu, it is essential to mention what are the overlapping factors that lead to the close proximity of the two diseases.

The dengue fever and flu share the following common symptoms:

  • Apathy and tiredness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • General sickness

How is Dengue Virus Different from Flu?

In order to segregate one disease from the other, what is needed to be examined is the intensity of the symptoms. Even though the two diseases have a lot in common, there are a few symptoms that are only limited to flu and there are a few that are only limited to the dengue fever. Therefore, if the intensity of the symptoms are high and the symptoms specific to flu are absent, doctors might get the blood test of a patient run to rule out the possibility of dengue virus. Also, if its regular flu, a person will sneeze, cough and have a runny nose, all of these symptoms are not present in the dengue fever.

If a person is suffering from dengue fever, the general sickness suffered by the person will lead to acute pain in muscles and joints. The pain will remain persistent for several days increasing in intensity, if nothing at all. In flu, the symptom is defined as the constant tiredness, but if a person is infected with the dengue virus, this symptom is not ruled out as just fatigue. Because this feeling is not centralized at a particular point on the body. It is in fact spread throughout the body, leading to a feeling of permanent tiredness. This feeling of tiredness intensifies as the patient’s blood platelets lower.

The other important indicator that can help differentiate between dengue fever and influenza is the severity and duration of the headache. Doctors will also take into notice for how long the patient was suffering from fever and whether the fever was high or moderate. Also, if the case is of dengue, a patient will have unbearable pain in eye sockets, creating it difficult for them to make simple movements. Their eyes might also feel sore and heavy.

As discussed above, dengue fever’s symptoms will remain for several days. Since dengue affects blood platelets count, therefore, the intensity and severity of these symptoms will increase as the blood platelets decrease. If the blood count falls below 10,000, the patient will undergo extreme weakness and fatigue. Other symptoms like bruising on the skin, bleeding gum, and blood in urine will also become quite apparent. In such situation, an immediate visit to a doctor is absolute necessary. Timely diagnosis will help fight the symptoms of the disease.

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out for

The symptoms of dengue are listed below:

  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Severe headaches
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Mild bleeding

This viral flu-like illness has spared children as well. Symptoms of dengue in children are almost the same as that of adults, but, for younger children, toddlers and infants, some of the distinguishing symptoms can be noticed. A child may:

  • Cry much more than usual
  • Be irritable and unsettled
  • Very agitated or sleepy

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Although the disease is potentially lethal with moderate chance of survival, early diagnosis and management by experienced doctors may save lives.

Physicians will run blood test to find out whether a person is bitten by the infected mosquito which has transmitted the virus into the body. Once the disease is verified, physicians might recommend pain relievers with acetaminophen. It must be noted that patients shouldn’t take medicines with aspirin since the chemical formula of aspirin might make the situation even worse.

A patient is advised to drink a lot of fluids and take plenty of rest. The first step is to deal with fever and manage the body temperature. In case the condition worsen, immediate medical attention must be sought.

Dengue Rash

While treating the disease, it is important to understand what possible symptoms the disease might show. The most common one is rash. The rash might appear twice: once in the initial stages and the other during the later stage. There are three types of rash that appear during the disease.

Petechiae Rash

This rash results in bright red dots that is shown on the skin’s surface. It usually occurs on limb and hints at the bleeding underneath the skin. It doesn’t lose its color when touched and is not intensely itchy.

Bright Red Rash

The other type of rash is rather severe. The skin appears to be bright red and turns florid.

Lesions

In the third form of rash, lesions appear. This type of rash is more visible than the above two.

The skin rash is uncomforting and itchy. At times, the skin on the affected area will come out. Let it be as it is quite normal. To minimize the itchiness, soothe the affected area with a moisturizer.

How to Recover From Dengue at Home

There are number of tried and tested remedies available to recover from dengue at home. Here is the list:

Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves are said to be the most effective fruit one can have to increase the platelet count. It is also essential in reducing the symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, chills, and body ache. Take a few papaya leaves and crush them. Drink the juice which will help flush out the toxins out of the body.

Goldenseal

It is a kind of herb whose root has been used for making medicine. Similar to papaya leaves, the herb not only reduces the symptoms of dengue, but also fights the virus present in the body. The herb leaves can be chewed or crushed and the juice so obtained can be drank.

Giloy

Another important drug, Giloy, helps in soothing the dengue symptoms. Stems of Giloy are boiled to drink it as tea. Tulsi leaves can be added to give flavor.

Turmeric

Turmeric is famous for boosting the immune system and facilitating the healing process. Turmeric can be consumed along milk.

Fenugreek Leaves

Methi or fenugreek leaves should be consumed to fight dengue symptoms. These leaves can be soaked in water. Drink the fenugreek leaves treated water to reduce the symptom.

How to prevent dengue

A few preventive measures can be adopted to reduce the likelihood of the outbreak of the disease.

  • Windows and doors should be closed at the time of sun set and sun rise.
  • DDT sprays should be sprayed to keep mosquitoes away from houses.
  • Mosquitoes-repellant should be applied.
  • Standing water on streets and homes should be cleaned.

How to Recover From Dengue Weakness

After recovering from dengue, patients have complained about general body weakness. This can be tackled by adopting following measures:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, including coconut water sugar water, soups and juices.
  • Increase the intake of dry fruit since it helps increase the appetite
  • Add fruit to your diet
  • Take multi vitamin supplements to increase immunity

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