Dengue Fever

I had recently lost a friend who was battling dengue and it seemed only natural that I write about it.

Of course like all my other articles, I research information (or just copy and paste.. heh) and also ask from doctor friends for medical advice. This write up, however, comes from the heart. Many of the articles here are posted just after something happens to me, my girls, people I know, when i’m asked questions or seek advice and/or when situations become a topic of discussion. Posts are written to bring up awareness to the public on how serious (or not serious) they can be.

When it comes to viruses and sickness, we always think that it would never happen to us until it actually happens. Personally, I have always been the type who opts for natural remedies before seeking medical help and I will still do so but when it comes to more serious illnesses, I will be sure to see a professional.

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Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence (the “dengue triad”) of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic of dengue. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles.

Dengue (pronounced deng-gay) strikes people with low levels of immunity. Because it is caused by one of four serotypes of virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular serotype to which the patient was exposed.

Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint and muscle pain, hence the name breakbone fever.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Manifestations include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. Petechiae (small red or purple blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.

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Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of dengue fever most commonly include:

  • Fever, as high as 106 F (41 C)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle, bone and joint pain
  • Pain behind your eyes

You might also experience:

  • Widespread rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rarely, minor bleeding from your gums or nose

Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky. And the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your bloodstream drops. This can cause:

  • Bleeding from your nose and mouth
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding under the skin, which might look like bruising
  • Problems with your lungs, liver and heart

Factors that put you at greater risk of developing dengue fever or a more severe form of the disease include:

  • Living or traveling in tropical areas. Being in tropical and subtropical areas increases your risk of exposure to the virus that causes dengue fever. Especially high-risk areas are Southeast Asia, the western Pacific islands, Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Prior infection with a dengue fever virus. Previous infection with a dengue fever virus increases your risk of having severe symptoms if you’re infected again.

If severe, dengue fever can damage the lungs, liver or heart. Blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels, causing shock and, in some cases, death.

Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult, because its signs and symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases — such as malaria, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe international trips in detail, including the countries you visited and the dates, as well as any contact you may have had with mosquitoes.

Certain laboratory tests can detect evidence of the dengue viruses, but test results usually come back too late to help direct treatment decisions

No specific treatment for dengue fever exists. Your doctor may recommend that you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from vomiting and high fever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can alleviate pain and reduce fever. Avoid pain relievers that can increase bleeding complications — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).

If you have severe dengue fever, you may need:

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

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Rest in peace dear friend. May you be placed amongst the righteous in the hereafter. #syarified

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