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All about Dengue Fever

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is a disease you can get from the bite of a mosquito carrying one of four types of dengue viruses. The virus is mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions, such as Central and South America, Africa, parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.Mild dengue fever results in high fever and flu-like symptoms. The more serious form of dengue fever, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can lead to serious bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock) and death.

What are the Types of Dengue Fever?

There are three types of dengue fever including:

Dengue fever: Dengue fever is a viral infection caused by the dengue virus that is transmitted through the bite of the infected Aedes mosquito.

Dengue hemorraghic fever (DHF): Dengue hemorrhagic fever is also known as severe dengue. The mosquito borne viral infection dengue sometimes develops into possible lethal complication known as dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Dengue shock syndrome(DSS): Shock syndrome is a serious complication of dengue infection and is linked with high mortality rates. The begining of shock in dengue can be conspicuous, and its progression constant.

What are the Symptoms of Dengue Fever?

The symptoms of dengue fever include:

  • Intense pain in stomach
  • Constant vomiting
  • Gums or nose bleeding
  • Blood in your urine, stools or vomit
  • Bleeding in skin, which may look like bruising
  • Breathing problems
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Pain in muscle, bone and joint

What Causes Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is caused by one of four viruses of dengue When a mosquito infected with the dengue virus bites you, the virus can enter your blood and make copies of itself and your immune system’s response can make you feel sick. Dengue can be spread through Aedes mosquitos, which carries viruses such as Zika and chikungunya. The mosquitos bites someone with dengue fever and then bites someone else, and make them infected.The virus can damage parts of your blood that causes clots and give structure to your blood vessels. This, along with some chemicals that your immune system produces, can make your blood leak out of your vessels and cause internal bleeding. This causes life-threatening symptoms of severe dengue.

What are the Risk Factors of Dengue Fever?

You have a greater risk of developing dengue fever or a more severe form of the disease if:

  • If you are from tropical areas or travel there for some reason. Living in tropical and subtropical areas raises your chances of exposure to the virus that causes dengue fever. The high-risk areas include Southeast Asia, the western Pacific islands, Latin America and Africa.
  • Your chances of getting it increases if you have had dengue fever in the past. Earlier infection with a dengue fever virus increases your risk of serious symptoms if you get dengue fever again.

What are the Complications of Dengue Fever?

Severe dengue fever can lead to conditions like internal bleeding and organ damage. Blood pressure can fall to serious levels, which may cause shock. Sometimes, severe dengue fever can cause death also. Women infected with dengue fever during pregnancy may infect the baby with the virus during childbirth. Also, babies of women who get dengue fever during pregnancy have a higher risk of pre-term birth, low birth weight or fetal issues.

How Dengue Fever is Diagnosed?

A blood test is the main option to diagnose dengue fever. Your doctor may take a sample of blood through a vein and send it to a laboratory to check for signs and symptoms of the dengue virus. This may also detect which of the four versions you have. A doctor can use a blood test to check for other viruses that cause similar symptoms.

What are the Treatment Options Available for Dengue Fever?

Particular treatment for dengue fever exists but there are medications available to ease the symptoms and complications of dengue fever.

Drink plenty of fluids while recovering from dengue fever.

The over-the-counter (OTC) drug acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) is helpful to reduce muscle pain and fever. But if you have severe dengue fever, it’s better to avoid other OTC pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) as they can augment the chances of dengue fever bleeding complications.

Also in case of severe dengue fever, you should go for:

  • Supportive care in a hospital
  • Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement
  • Monitoring blood pressure
  • Transfusion to replace blood loss

Living with Dengue Fever

Dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms that may last for 2-7 days. Dengue fever mostly happens after an incubation period of 4-10 days after being bitten by the infected mosquito. Since there is no treatment available for dengue fever, you should take complete bed rest till it goes away on its own. Take plenty of fluids while recovering from dengue fever. Infected people are advised to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes for up to two weeks from the onset of illness to avoid passing the dengue virus onto mosquitoes which may infect other people. Consider getting vaccinated with extra precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially if you live in a dengue-prone area.

Whom to Consult?

If you experience symptoms of dengue fever then immediately contact your doctor who may refer you to a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases. The specialist will prescribe you a blood test to diagnose dengue fever. In the beginning, the symptoms of dengue may last from three to seven days. Most people begin to feel better after this, but some have life-threatening severe dengue that needs treatment in a medical facility where the chance of recovery is 99%.

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