Dengue Fever (correctly pronounced as DEN-GEE) has been on a rise over the past few years across 100 countries around the world. They are most prevalent in the tropical areas of the world such as South America, India, Southern China, Africa, and Southeast Asia. 40% of the population reside in these areas, that is about 3 billion people who are at the risk of dengue fever.
Dengue fever is a painful, and exhausting mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. It is transmitted by female mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti species. The same mosquito is also responsible for spreading Chikungunya, Yellow fever, and Zika infection.
Causes of Dengue Fever
The dengue virus infection spreads through the bite of a mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. Hence, this dengue fever is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from one person to another person.
The epidemic is taking a toll on human health and both global and national economies. Dengue is widespread in tropical countries with local variations due to the influence of rainfall, temperature, and unplanned urban infrastructure. Even though it can be traced back to the 50’s – the severe dengue affects countries in Asia and Latin America. It is a leading cause of hospitalization and death in children and adults. There are indications of 390 million people who suffer from dengue infections every year.
The risk factors that cause the onset of dengue fever and breeding of mosquitoes are due to
- Rainy seasons
- Water-filled flower pots, drains, plastic bags and cans
- Tropical temperatures
- Unplanned rapid urbanization spread across tropical countries
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Dengue fever symptoms are usually more visible between 4 to 7 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. This can last up to 10 days as well. Children and teens usually experience no symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. It is often mistaken for flu or viral infection. It causes very high fever touching 104 F and causes at least 2 or more symptoms.
Therefore, look out for the following symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Severe joint, bone, and muscle pain
- Pain behind the eyes
- Swollen glands
- Skin rash that appears 2 to 5 days after the onset of fever
- Mild bleeding of the nose and gums
Severe cases of dengue fever have symptoms graver in nature, almost life-threatening. Such as:
- Dengue hemorrhagic fever
- Damage to lymph and blood vessels
- Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bleeding from gums or nose
- Blood in urine, stools or vomit
- Cold or clammy skin
- Irritability or restlessness
- Enlargement of the liver
- Failure of the circulatory system
These symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death. Thus, leading to a drop in the blood platelets. This can cause severe dengue fever also called the dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
Dengue Fever – Treatment
Doctors have not found a specific treatment for dengue fever. They may recommend you to drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration from vomiting and high fever.
However, there are two types of treatment that one can adhere to using either Natural remedies for dengue treatment or Treatment at the hospital by doctors.
Natural Remedies for Dengue treatment
Natural remedies are always effective and easy to do. There are a number of ways that you can cure and prevent dengue fever symptoms with items you can easily find in your kitchen. Ayurvedic medicines for dengue fever are also very useful in treating the same.
1. Papaya Leaf for Dengue Treatment
Papaya leaves are rich in Vitamin C and have antioxidants that boost a weak immunity. Since dengue leads to a low platelet count, the juice of papaya leaf helps in increasing the number of blood platelet count.
Method to Consume:
Squeeze a handfull of papaya leaf, extracting the juice. Mix it with honey or fruit juice to improve its flavor. Take 2 tablespoons of this juice thrice daily.
2. Basil Leaves (Tulsi) and Black Pepper – Cures Dengue
Tulsi or Basil has medicinal properties that are used often in treating various infections. It protects your body from radical damage and its antimicrobial properties can help eliminate the virus.
Method to Consume:
Boil a handful of basil leaves in 2 cups of water and add in a pinch of black pepper. Let the tea cool down before you consume it. You can add honey as well. Drink this tea 2 to 3 times daily to cure dengue fever.
3. Turmeric – Fights Dengue
Turmeric is one of the best natural remedies for dengue treatment. This golden spice has amazing medicinal properties healing infections and bruises. Due to the presence of curcumin, its antiviral properties help in fighting the viral infections of dengue fever.
Method to Consume:
Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of hot milk and drink this once a day preferably before going to bed. This will ease the pain caused by dengue and help you sleep better.
4. Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds – Dengue Treatment
Fenugreek seeds are very rich in vitamins C and K, fiber, and various minerals. This makes these seeds a great natural remedy for the treatment of dengue fever. The vitamins present in the seeds help in improving your immunity and prevent bleeding. It also helps in bringing down the fever.
Method to Consume:
Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to a cup of hot water and let t steep for at least 5 minutes before you can add honey to it. Once the drink has cooled down, drink this mixture 2 to 3 times daily.
To know more, read our article on Dengue Fever Treating it Naturally.
Treatment by Doctors
Severe dengue fever can lead to life-threatening symptoms and thus, often requires hospitalization. Thus, as soon as you develop symptoms please visit the doctor immediately.
Symptoms of dengue typically last up to 10 days. However, most people recover earlier, roughly about a week. Since there is no specific medication to treat dengue, there are few measures that your doctor will prescribe to you.
- Rest as much as possible. Avoid any kind of exertion.
- Before you take paracetamol by yourself, ask your doctor if the medicine is right for you.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water or drinks with added electrolytes to stay hydrated. It is very important to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid taking pain killers such as ibuprofen and aspirin as they can increase bleeding complications.
For the treatment of severe dengue, it is advised to,
- Visit the hospital for supportive care.
- Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement.
- Monitoring of your blood platelet count.
- Blood pressure monitoring.
- Transfusion to replace blood loss.
Dengue Fever Prevention
“Prevention is better than cure” is an ideal preventive measure in itself for preventing oneself from various diseases.
Taking sustainable and cautious preventive measures will keep you healthy and aware of your surroundings and of your body. Using dengue fever prevention methods is not only effective in keeping dengue fever at bay but also helps to sustain the polluted environment that we are living in.
Dengue Fever Vaccine
In April 2016, the WHO approved Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia, a vaccine for dengue fever. Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccines division of the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi in Lyon, France.
Dengvaxia is given to individuals between the age of 9 and 45 who especially live in areas with a high risk of dengue fever. This vaccine is given in 3 doses over the course of 12 months. Therefore, this vaccine is only approved for older children as younger children are at a higher risk of fever after 2 years of receiving the vaccination.
Moreover, Dengvaxia protected 66% of people aged 9 and older against dengue in clinical trials conducted in Latin America and Asia. In addition, Dengvaxia was very effective at protecting against severe dengue, preventing 93% of severe cases, and reducing hospitalizations by 80%.
Precautions to be taken
According to the WHO, the dengue vaccine is not an effective tool by itself. To reduce dengue, controlling the mosquito population and taking precautions is equally important.
For those living in or traveling to areas where dengue is prominent, the best move is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes to avoid the fever.
- Wear protective and light-colored clothes and keep yourself covered head to toe.
- Use mosquito repellant creams, sprays, roll-ons such as Permethrin or those that contain citronella. You can apply it to your clothes, shoes and bed netting.
- Burn camphor or citronella essential oil in a lamp diffuser at home to keep mosquitoes away.
- Stay or sleep indoors in air conditioning rooms. The mosquitoes that carry the viruses are most active from dawn to dusk, but they can also bite at night.
- Moreover, use mosquito netting over the bed if available.
- Empty and clean containers that hold standing water, such as plant pots, pet bowls, outdoor birdbaths and flower vases at least once a week. This will omit the mosquitoes from laying its eggs.
- Spray insecticides to water storage outdoor containers.
- Spray Indian Lilac (Neem) oil mixed with water on your plants to keep mosquitoes from entering your house.
- Most importantly, cut an orange in half and stick cloves inside the fruit and leave it in corners of every room in the house. This acts as a mosquito repellant.
Remember, mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the virus to others in your home. Thus, stay covered and take all the necessary precautions especially during and after rainy seasons. This is when dengue fever is at its peak.
Keep your family and yourself safe!
Comment below if you know any more preventive measures that we have missed out and can help someone in need.