Healthy Living

Is Dengue Fever Fatal?

Is Dengue Fever Fatal?

Dengue fever, a viral infection spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which causes acute body pain, raging fever and a slew of rashes and spots covering the body, but rarely progresses far enough to claim lives. Fatalities only occur when typical dengue develops into more serious conditions such as the Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or the Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) which are marked by severe dehydration and bleeding.

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It is possible to reduce fatality likelihood in dengue infections by carefully managing the risk factors that trigger the onset of the infection. Proper diagnosis of symptoms and prompt medical care almost always prevents the progression of the disease and ensures a speedy recovery.

Dengue fever related fatalities can be avoided in the following ways:

Accurate diagnosis to facilitate the best treatment

Dengue is marked by the onset of high fever. Initial signs can be easily mistaken for other viral fevers like influenza, chikungunya, or leptospirosis. It is also a big mistake to see the reversal of fever as a sign that the infection has passed, because dengue fever can strike again, peaking with a second fever within the first seven days.

Typically, dengue exhibits a triad of symptoms which are debilitating body pain, a steady high fever, and rashes on the skin. Aspirin, antimalarial drugs and painkillers like Ibuprofen are of no use in treating symptoms as they only worsen the condition of the patient and exacerbate bleeding.

Progression of dengue fever to DHF and DSS should be avoided

Dengue fever’s immediate effect dramatically reduces the blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia). This signals the weakening of the immune system and the body’s inability to fend off the infection. If this condition is ignored, it can rapidly lead to internal bleeding and the more serious condition, DHF.

Immediate medical care is necessary to stabilize the platelet count. Doctors will avoid prescribing drugs like Heparin and Aspirin that cause bleeding. Adequate rest, healthy and nutritious food, vitamin C supplementation, and in extreme cases platelet transfusion help to stabilize the platelet count.

Gastrointestinal bleeding must be prevented

Though pain, fever, and rashes are the initial signs of typical dengue fever, these symptoms may worsen if the disease remains undetected or untreated.

The blood vessels start swelling, and as the walls get stretched, pores become large enough to start leaking blood cells and plasma. Leaking blood appears as a network of reddish spots (petechiae) on the skin. Shortly thereafter, blood makes will appear in the gastrointestinal tract (shown by vomiting blood) and in urine (hematuria) and stools.

Worsening of symptoms indicates the onset of more serious conditions such as DHF and DSS. In the majority of cases, lack of access to medical facilities and delayed emergency care are the main reasons for increasing fatality rates in dengue infections.

Fluid loss has to be remedied to prevent dehydration

Dehydration is the largest setback to recovery from dengue symptoms. It is also the easiest to remedy at home. Fruit juices, non-sweetened beverages, nutrient-rich soups and mineral water must be consumed constantly by the patient.

Screening and protecting the patient from secondary infections

Room openings like windows, exhausts, and doors have to be netted to prevent the ingress of insects. The patient needs to be protected under mosquito netting when recovering. Breeding grounds in and around the home should be eliminated or sprayed to prevent mosquito larvae from replicating. These simple precautions minimize the risk of secondary infections caused by other strains of the virus. 

Though dengue fever is distressful, it is fatal only when the disease is misdiagnosed or remains untreated. Prompt medical attention and correct diagnosis pave the way for a slew of measures aimed at speeding up the recovery process.