What should I do if I suspect I have dengue?
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bites of an infected mosquito, specifically the female mosquitoes of the Aedes species. A mosquito is said to be infected when the mosquito bites a human that has been infected by dengue virus. These viruses then infect the mosquito and the mosquito then further the spread of the dengue virus among humans by biting another human. Hence, a dengue is also known as a rapid mosquito-borne viral disease due to the ongoing cycle of how the dengue virus is spread.
A person infected with dengue virus may not exclusively show symptoms especially if the infection is mild. In fact, 80% of the population exposed to dengue virus does not even show any symptoms or is asymptomatic. Dengue fever is a common manifestation of a person infected with dengue virus. Dengue fever is usually suspected when a person is experiencing high temperature fever which lasts two to seven days. Other symptoms commonly accompanied with fever are headaches associated with pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital headaches), muscle pain (myalgia), joint pain (arthralgia), vomiting, nausea and skin rash.
Let’s say, you found yourself with the symptoms mentioned above and now you suspect yourself with dengue, so what’s next? Firstly, it is best to see a healthcare professional right after you develop a fever or are experiencing symptoms of dengue. This is especially true and becomes more urgent if you spot yourself experiencing warning signs such as sudden severe pain in the abdomen, vomiting more than 3 times in 24 hours, vomiting blood, presence of blood in stool, bleeding gums or nose and feeling fatigue or restlessness. If you spot yourself or anyone around you with such signs, immediately go to a nearby healthcare facility or emergency room as this can be a sign of an impending doom of a severe dengue.
You should rest as much as possible as this illness may actually resolve on its own. You can take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as paracetamol to help reduce the fever and to relieve pain. Avoid using drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin since it can increase bleeding problems in people with dengue. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Fluids can be in the form of plain water or drinks packed with electrolytes. A person should feel better about 1 week after symptoms have fully subsided and of course it is advisable to get medical advice if symptoms do not improve at all.
The most important part of the dengue illness is to note that a person may show sign fever suddenly subside at the 3rd until the 7th days. During this time, a person is not actually healing from dengue but this is known as the critical phase as a person’s condition may suddenly deteriorate and worsen rapidly. Thus, spotting warning signs is crucial to avoid such conditions from happening. This is also the reason why some patients may need to stay in the hospital for a few hours or days more. During this time, patients are able to be observed by medical practitioners and for healthcare providers to help provide enough treatments and support in order for patients to successfully go through this critical phase and survive.
Since there are no specific treatments for dengue, treatments mainly focus on supporting patients by reducing severity symptoms and to improve general conditions of the patients. Dangerous complications such as organ impairment and internal bleeding or deadly complications such as shock syndrome can greatly be reduced when a person gets the best medical care and when a person is diagnosed at an early stage of dengue.