With the onset of monsoon, the number of cases of vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya usually increases.  At present we are facing the dengue epidemic and there are a lot of cases especially in children. This increased incidence of the illness and a lot of myths associated with the disease is causing much anxiety and panic in the people’s minds. Symptoms of dengue can be mild and severe, while mild symptoms can be treated at home.

Here are some clear symptoms which can give a clear picture of the disease, treatment and danger signs to help dispel the anxiety of parents.

Signs of Mild to Moderate dehydration

Toddlers and ChildrenAdults
Urinates less frequently (less than 6 wet diapers per day)Thirst, dry or sticky mouth
Dry mouth, tongue, lipsNot peeing very much, dark yellow pee
Few or no tears when cryingDry, cool skin
Sunken soft spot of the headHeadache

Signs of severe dehydration

Toddlers and ChildrenAdults
Sleepiness, lack of energy, very fussyNot peeing very much, dark yellow pee
Sunken eyesFeeling dizzy, sleepy, no energy, confused, or irritable
Cool, discolored hands or feetRapid heart rate, breathing
Urinates 1-2 times per daySunken eyes

Dr Rekha Bandhekar, shares some tips on the care and treatment of Dengue.

What are the signs of Dengue and how it is different from other viral fevers?

To start with, Dengue fever is like any other viral fever. The factors that can differentiate Dengue from other viral fever is a sudden onset of high fever, of about 103-105°F, associated with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, exhaustion, and rash over the body. All these symptoms can also be associated with nausea or vomiting. The symptoms can last for over 5-7 days. These symptoms can be seen in normal viral fever also but in Dengue, exhaustion, and joint pain are very severe and children look sick even when there is no fever.

What are the danger signs of Dengue fever?

Any child who has features such as – severe pain in the abdomen, persistent vomiting, not passing enough urine, feeling very weak, or has excessive sleepiness with fever or for 1 to 2 days ever after the fever subsides are the children who should be taken to a doctor immediately.

Can dengue fever be treated at home?

Most patients with dengue fever can be treated at home. They should take rest, drink plenty of fluids and maintain a nutritious diet. Taking plenty of fluids is very important and prevents the complications of Dengue fever.

Fever should be treated with fever medicines; antibiotics are not required.

How will the doctors treat my child in the hospital?

If the home remedies are not working or the child is very sick, then the child is admitted to the hospital. The treatment is hydration with the administration of intravenous fluids, having control over vomiting, and monitoring the blood parameters to look for thickness of blood (hematocrit) and liver enzymes, etc.

What is the role of platelet count and how often do we require to check it?

Platelet count usually decreases during the course of illness but treatment and assessment of the severity of the disease is based on the degree of dehydration and thickness of blood (haematocrit) and platelet count has no role in either of them. Increased risk of bleeding in dengue is associated with decreased blood supply to the vital organs and low blood pressure.

If the above are normal and the child is clinically improving and has good oral intake with no sign of dehydration, then, in most cases, a low platelet count should not cause a problem. But if the child has low blood pressure and severe dehydration then chances of bleeding are present even with a relatively higher platelet count. In such cases, we need to monitor the disease very closely.

Is there a vaccine to prevent dengue fever?

At present, there are no vaccines to prevent dengue fever.

How can I prevent Dengue?

Dengue is caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. This mosquito bites during the day, and the highest biting intensity is about 2 hours after sunrise and before sunset. To prevent mosquito bites wearing full-sleeve clothes and long dresses especially when going outside, using mosquito repellents, and preventing water from accumulating and mosquito breeding are important factors.

Papaya leaf juice, coconut water, pomegranate, spinach, broccoli, are the popular choice in food, since they great as hydrants and also rich in antioxidants and minerals.

What are the food one should have and what the food to be avoided ?

Having a good diet can also help stabilize your health and keep the platelet count from dipping. Certain foods have also been used alongside traditional healing medicines to prevent and treat the mosquito-borne disease.

For those who are suffering from dengue, Papaya leaves are the best option to go for. Just crush the papaya leaves and squeeze them to extract the juice. Its extract increases platelets counts to a great extent. Alternatively, you can also boil the papaya leaves in water and drink the solution. It is possibly the best home remedy for the treatment of dengue fever. 30 ml of fresh papaya leaf juice helps in increasing the platelet count.