There are over 100 million reported cases of dengue fever worldwide per year. Although common, dengue can be very dangerous.
This condition is caused by a group of viruses that mosquitoes carry.
Since mosquitoes thrive in warm and humid places, dengue fever can be commonly observed in tropical and semi-tropical countries.
Cases of dengue fever significantly increase during the rainy season as rainwater can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It is not infectious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
What are its causes?
Your child can get dengue by being bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito, also known as the “yellow fever” mosquito.
This type of mosquito carries viruses that can cause different types of diseases including dengue fever and Zika fever. The family of viruses that cause dengue consists of 4 different viruses.
There are chances of getting immune to one virus once infected by it, but your child may still susceptible to getting infected by the other remaining viruses.
Symptoms may not be visible immediately after getting bitten by a mosquito that carries the dengue virus. Most of the time, the symptoms appear after 2 or 3 days of getting bitten by an infected mosquito.
What are its symptoms?
Dengue fevers are very common in younger children. Usually, dengue begins with symptoms that can be easily mistaken as regular flu.
However, if the symptoms do not subside within a day or two, then it is likely that you have dengue. The following are the most common symptoms of dengue:
- Constant coughing
- High fever
- Aching in the joint areas
- Recurring harsh headaches
- Throbbing pain in the hind area of the eyes
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Low blood pressure
- The appearance of skin rashes, usually characterized by red, itchy patches
- Nose bleeding
- Gum bleeding
- Breathing troubles
For people who have never been infected with dengue, especially children, may experience milder symptoms than those who have already gotten infected in the past.
People who have already had dengue in the past have greater risks of developing a more serious condition due to their weakened immune systems.
Dengue fever can develop into serious problems when left untreated. For example, symptoms of dengue fever can progress into dengue hemorrhagic fever or worse, death from dengue shock syndrome.
So if your child is experiencing the symptoms listed above, immediately consult a doctor and ask for a diagnosis.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually, medical professionals would conduct blood tests to determine whether or not your child has dengue. But in some cases, they can easily identify dengue fever just by observing the appearance and/or symptoms of the patient.
The doctor will ask questions with regards to the symptoms that your child is feeling and what countries or places the child has visited in the past.
Children may also be subjected to undergo blood tests to check if they have contracted any dengue virus.
If your doctor feels that your child’s symptoms are already critical, he may suggest doing a Complete Blood cell Count (CBC) to determine the severity of your child’s dengue fever.
How is it treated?
Some cases of dengue fever cure themselves without going through extensive hospital treatments. But if your child’s case is already severe, s/he may be subjected to hospitalization.
Inside the hospital, your child will be carefully scrutinized. His/her blood pressure level and blood count will be constantly monitored.
Different blood tests may be performed to detect if the virus is declining or otherwise. Hydration and rest are very important factors that can aid in dengue treatment and recovery.
But the following practices are also of great help in managing dengue fever:
- Rest as much as you can and avoid any physical activities/movements, especially strenuous ones.
- Eat only light but nutritious foods. No junk foods! Avoid processed and fast foods for a good period of time and eat fresh and whole foods.
- Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, take only paracetamols. And avoid self-medication, consult a medical professional before ingesting any medicine.
- Drink lots of water! Your body goes through extreme dehydration from dengue symptoms, so make sure you get to replace your fluid loss.
How can it be prevented?
Scientists are yet to develop an effective dengue vaccine so prevention is key. It is important to be extra cautious when it comes to mosquitoes.
To safeguard your child, yourself, and the people around you from being infected by dengue, you must do the following:
- Maintain cleanliness. Make sure your surroundings are always neat and clean.
- Always close the lids of your trash bins so as to prevent mosquitoes from breeding inside them. If you can, try to only store your garbage in public garbage cans that are far from your house.
- Watch out for stagnant water around your home. You may observe accumulated water from the rain inside flower pots, tanks, drainage, swimming pools, on the roof, wherever. Empty all of them and wash them off. Stagnant water serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- As much as possible, close your doors and windows at night. This is especially important for people who live in tropical areas. Mosquitoes mostly invade your home during the night.
- Have a mosquito mesh installed all over your doors and windows.
- Use mosquito nets when sleeping during the night.
- Resort to natural remedies like putting leaves of need at the corners of your home or putting neem oil in an essential oil diffuser.
- Grow citronella plants all over your garden, or maybe even indoors.
- Apply and mosquito repellent creams or lotions all the time and reapply after a few hours, especially when outdoors.
- Dark colored clothes attract mosquitoes, so dress in light-colored clothing as much as you can.
- If it’s not too hot, dress in clothes that can fully cover you (i.e. long sleeves, long pants, etc).
- Invest in mosquito repellent sprays. Spray it all over your home, especially your bedroom at night. However, do not be too harsh with it as it may be dangerous for younger children to inhale this (unless you’re using an organic repellent spray).
Dengue fever can render a function feeble and unwell. It may even take weeks to fully recover and rejuvenate back into form. So don’t force your child to do too many movements as people who suffer dengue tend to be nonfunctional by default.
Don’t be frustrated if your child doesn’t show drastic improvements in a short amount of time. Instead, give your child the TLC s/he needs and be a great support system for him/her.
For more related topics, read the article linked below.