Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

By Dr. Namrita Singh in Internal Medicine

Aug 03 , 2023 | 2 min read

Dengue is one of the most common types of mosquito-related illnesses. There is a rise in cases, especially during and after the monsoon season. It is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and some of its key features are high fever, joint stiffness, body pain, lack of appetite and low platelet count.

There are four types of dengue viruses, which can make diagnosis and treatment challenging at times. A person is susceptible to getting four types of dengue over their lifespan, and interestingly, only one strain of infection provides lifelong immunity but does not affect the chances of being infected by the other three types of dengue. It is essential to note a second case of reinfection of the dengue virus can put one at more risk for DHF.

Fact: Only the female Aedes aegypti mosquito can cause dengue fever. A distinct characteristic of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the white bands on its body.

Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Symptoms

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of dengue fever. The condition is called haemorrhagic fever because symptoms manifest in the vascular system- this includes chances of internal bleeding and organ failure in severe cases. The start of the infection is characterised by high fevers, bodyache and joint pain, but the signs of a more serious condition include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Haemorrhagic manifestations (such as bruises, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and, in severe cases, melena, vaginal or intracranial bleeding)

  • Change in temperature

  • Vomiting and nausea

  • Clammy hands

  • Weak pulse

  • Early signs of shock

These symptoms may occur after one shows signs of getting better. It can be fatal if not treated on time.

The illness lasts roughly 10 days. The initial 4-5 days are like any other viral fever, marked by weakness, fever and bodyache. The fever resolves around day 5, and the platelet counts start dropping thereafter. The patients must get platelet count checks daily for the next 3 days, and then days 6,7 and 8. Recovery begins by day 9-10.

DHF can be diagnosed by physical exams and lab tests such as tourniquet tests and platelet tests, to name some.

Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Treatment

Since dengue is a viral infection, the focus is on alleviating the symptoms rather than treating the infection. The treatment for DHF generally requires hospitalisation. However, some treatment options include:

  • Ensuring that the patient is hydrated and well rested

  • Using Paracetamol (acetaminophen) for pain relief

  • Platelet infusion if platelet levels are dangerously low

  • If the patient is suffering from extreme dehydration, IV fluids may be administered.

If DHF is not managed appropriately, it can cause an individual to experience Dengue shock syndrome, which can be fatal.

Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Preventions

Prevention is key to dengue and its severe form, dengue haemorrhagic fever. Some tips include:

  • Regular use of mosquito repellants.

  • Use mosquito nets while sleeping, especially in areas with high dengue transmissions.

  • Ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene- stagnant water is an ideal source for mosquitos to breed in. Eliminating those can be helpful in reducing transmissions.

  • Wearing long clothing such as pants and long-sleeved shirts that cover your arms and legs.

In conclusion, DHF is a severe form of dengue. It requires immediate medical attention, preferably in a hospital setting, since they are equipped to deal with the severity of the condition. Early detection and proper treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

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