Dengue Fever: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
One of the most common mosquito-borne diseases, dengue is an enervating, painful viral infection. Caused by a virus transmitted by female Aedes mosquito, it results in flu-like symptoms. Since the symptoms of ailments like malaria, leptospirosis and typhoid fever resemble that of dengue, diagnosis becomes a little difficult.
Mostly occurring in the tropical and sub-tropical areas, dengue affects more than 400 million people worldwide every year. Another important thing to know about dengue is that it is not directly communicable. It can only be transferred through mosquito-bites.
Symptoms of Dengue
Symptoms of dengue start showing after 4-6 days after infection, lasting for 10-12 days. These include:
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Throbbing headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Body ache
- Red patches/skin rashes accompanying the fever
Patients with severe dengue may experience:
- Persistent fever and vomiting
- Breathing difficulty
- Tarry stools
- Pale skin
Diagnosis of Dengue
The first thing your doctor will ask you is your medical history accompanied by your travel history. This is important as he needs to know what all medical conditions you have or where you have travelled in order to diagnose the ailment quickly. Apart from this, laboratory tests are also needed.
If fever persists, complete blood check-up is done. People with lower than usual platelet and White Blood Cell (WBC) count are required to take the Dengue Antigen test.
Treatment of Dengue
Since dengue is a viral infection, it has no specific treatment. However, depending upon the severity of the infection, your healthcare advisor will suggest a few treatment options.
When the infection is mild, your doctor may suggest you ways to prevent dehydration. This is important because high-fever and vomiting your body dehydrated which, in turn, causes weakness. To avoid such situation, drinking clean, bottled water is generally recommended. Moreover, rehydration salts can help tremendously in restoring the lost fluids and minerals. Apart from this, certain painkillers including paracetamol are also recommended as they can alleviate body pain.
If the infection becomes severe and the patient is not able to take fluids via mouth, intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation is required. Patients suffering from severe dehydration may need blood transfusion as well.
Prevention of Dengue
You can prevent dengue infection by simply preventing mosquito bites. To accomplish the same, the following measures can be taken:
- Wear clothes which cover your body fully.
- Use mosquito repellents like DEET.
- Ensure that the windows and doors of your house have mosquito-screens.
- Mosquito nets are also recommended.
- Stay away from places with stagnant water.
Dengue is a deadly infection which needs medical care and treatment. Hence, it is advisable to visit your doctor as soon as the above mentioned symptoms start appearing.