What is dengue?
Dengue is a debilitating, painful, flu-like, mosquito-borne tropical illness. It is transmitted through the bite of a female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Aedes aegypti mosquito gets infected with a virus, called the arbovirus, when it bites a person who is already infected. The virus spreads through the mosquito’s system and spreads to its salivary glands, in a span of 8-12 days. After this period the mosquito can spread the virus to any human it feeds on.
You need to consult your family physician or a general physician if you observe the following symptoms:
- continuous high fever (above 38.5 degree Celsius)
- severe headache with pain behind the eyes
- body pain
How does dengue occur?
Once the Aedes mosquito bites a person suffering from dengue, the arbovirus enters the mosquito’s system. After getting infected, when the mosquito feeds on another person, the arbovirus gets transmitted to the person.
The virus travels through his body and spreads to various glands in the body. It enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation of the blood vessels, causing them to swell and leak. This affects the blood flow in the body and can cause the body to go into a state of shock, as the organs do not receive the required amount of oxygenated blood.
You may suddenly experience high fever, chills, headaches, severe aches in the joints, enlarged painful lymph nodes in the neck and tremendous weakness.
What are the symptoms of dengue? How is dengue diagnosed?
Some common symptoms of dengue include:
- sudden high fever
- skin rash due to damaged blood vessels
- severe headache
- severe joint and muscle pains
- mild nose or gum bleeding
- mild skin bruising
Dengue symptoms can often be confused with the symptoms of chikungunya. However, certain symptoms such as severe muscle pain is unique only to dengue. Whereas, debilitating joint pain is the unique feature of chikungunya. It is said dengue plus arthritis is equal to chikungunya.
These differences make the diagnosis clear.
Doctors may advise the following tests to rule out the possibility or diagnose dengue.
- Antibody titer for dengue virus types
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for dengue virus types
- Liver function tests
- Complete blood count (CBC)
What are the complications of dengue?
The complications of severe dengue include:
- damage to lungs, heart, or liver
- extremely low blood platelet count
- dangerously low blood pressure leading to circulatory system collapse
What is the treatment for dengue?
There is no specific treatment for dengue. The doctor may advise you to take plenty of rest, fluids, and provide you painkillers. There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. Even while prescribing pain-killers, paracetamol is recommended for treating the pain and fever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are never prescribed.
The usual treatment for the severe form of dengue consists of:
- providing Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement
- monitoring blood pressure
- blood transfusion to replace blood loss, if any
Questions answered by trusted doctors
Did you know?
India has the highest number of dengue cases
It is believed that India has more cases of dengue than any other country of the world.
Dengue cases in India higher than officially reported
Disturbingly, dengue fever cases in India is nearly 300 times higher than what is officially reported. Dengue may prove to be fatal for people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and thalassemia.
Women and children susceptible
Women and children are at a maximum risk from this disease. Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), which is a severe form of dengue fever, is a specific syndrome that usually affects children younger than 10 years of age. It can be fatal at times.
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