Dengue remains to be the fastest spreading vector-borne disease in the world, affecting a total of 185,000 Filipinos last 2012-2016. The Department of Health (DOH) reported 13,898 new cases of dengue for the first two months of the current year alone, 24% of those affected were children aged 10-14 years old. Although the cure for dengue remains to be a medical mystery, its symptoms can be effectively managed if detected in the early stages.
How do you diagnose dengue?
Dengue can be asymptomatic, meaning that there may be no symptoms at all during the first few days of infection. Your doctor may ask you about your medical and travel history to determine when and where you may have contracted dengue. Diagnosis may prove to be quite difficult without professional help since some of dengue’s symptoms can be mistaken for the common flu, malaria, leptospirosis, and typhoid fever. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to correctly diagnose your condition.
Is there a cure for dengue?
Currently, there are no available treatments for dengue fever but its symptoms can be managed. One of the important precautionary measures against dehydration caused by dengue fever is increasing your liquid intake and other fluid replacement methods. Mayo Clinic recommends that you watch out for other signs of dehydration like:
- Cold extremities
- Decreased urination
- Dry mouth
Your doctor may administer pain relievers containing acetaminophen or paracetamol to help reduce fever and ease joint pains. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the use of analgesics like aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided since these drugs may worsen bleeding complications. Additional treatments may be recommended for severe dengue cases like Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS).
How to take care of people with dengue
If you are assigned to care for someone who has dengue, then you must ensure that he/she is properly hydrated. Sometimes consumption of an electrolyte replacement solution or fruit juice is more ideal than regular water. A sponge bath may also help alleviate the effects of high fever on the patient. More severe cases of dengue or DSS is considered a medical emergency and according to WHO, there is an immediate need for the administration of intravenous fluid to expand plasma volume.
As mentioned, a blood test may be administered by a health professional once you are hospitalized to determine hematocrit levels, platelet count, and the like. Those who are suffering from shock may be put under strict observation through regular blood pressure checks, frequent blood tests, and constant updates on a fluid balance sheet.
Basic preventive measures
CDC recommends the following steps in ensuring that your home is dengue-free:
- Use bed nets if you sleep with the windows open.
- Consider putting up screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from getting in.
- Make cleaning a habit and keep an eye out for possible breeding grounds of mosquitoes like old tires, water containers, and stagnant water like puddles.