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How to identify dengue symptoms

The first symptoms of dengue fever may include high fever and general malaise, which appear about 3 days after the Aedes Aegypti mosquito bite.

It is important to know how this type of disease progresses so as not to confuse it's symptoms with other diseases like influenza, cold, malaria or meningitis, for example, starting the appropriate treatment quickly.

Main symptoms

If you suspect you may have dengue fever, select the symptoms you are experiencing from the ones below:

  1. 1. Fever above 39º C
    Yes
    No
  2. 2. Nausea or vomiting
    Yes
    No
  3. 3. Constant headache
    Yes
    No
  4. 4. Pain in the back of the eyes
    Yes
    No
  5. 5. Red spots on the skin, all over the body
    Yes
    No
  6. 6. Excessive tiredness for no apparent reason
    Yes
    No
  7. 7. Pain in joints and bones
    Yes
    No
  8. 8. Bleeding from the nose, eyes, or gums
    Yes
    No
  9. 9. Pink, red or brown urine
    Yes
    No
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If after this test you continue to suspect you have dengue fever, you should start to drink a lot of fluids and go to the doctor as soon as possible so he can confirm the disease. The only medication you can take in this case is Paracetamol, so you can alleviate the pain and fever, because aspirin can cause hemorrhage.

See a complete list of the medications that shouldn't be used to alleviate dengue fever symptoms.

1. Classic dengue fever: specific symptoms 

Classic dengue symptoms
Classic dengue symptoms

The symptoms of classic dengue fever are similar to those of Zika, but are usually more intense and last for about 7 to 15 days, while Zika usually goes away within 1 week. In any case, it is important to go to the doctor so that the proper diagnosis is reached and the correct treatment is initiated.

Below are the symptoms of classic dengue fever and what to do to relieve each one:

High fever

High fever has a sudden onset and the body temperature gets to be around 39 to 40ºC. A fever means that the body is beginning to fight the virus through the production of antibodies, so it is important to rest so that the body's energies can be concentrated in killing the virus.

How to alleviate: Medications that control fever such as paracetamol, preferably prescribed by the doctor, should be used. Place moist cloths on the forehead, nape of the neck and armpits or take slightly cool baths to help lower body temperature.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting may occur due to general malaise caused by the disease, which can also cause lack of appetite and nausea at strong odors.

How to alleviate: You should consume small amounts of food at any one time, avoiding consuming foods that are too hot or too cold, as they worsen the malaise. In addition, foods that are easy to chew and digest should be preferred, avoiding salt, pepper and seasoning in general.

Headache and eye pain

A headache usually affects the eye region and can worsen with the movement and effort made by the eyes to see.

How to alleviate: Take pain medication, such as paracetamol, put warm water patches on your forehead or take ginger, fennel, lavender or chamomile tea.

Red spots on the skin

The red spots that may appear are similar to the measles spots, but they appear mainly in the region of the thorax and in the arms. The disease can be confirmed through the loop test,

In the hospital or clinic, the loop test can differentiate the symptoms of dengue and Zika, because when you have dengue fever more red spots appear in the area that is tested by the doctor. See more about how the tourniquet test is done.

How to alleviate: the blemishes caused by dengue fever generally disappear during the treatment, so there is no need for specific treatment. However, you should avoid traumas to the skin, because it may cause bleeding. 

Malaise and fatigue

You may feel fatigue because as the body fights the virus, it will burn more energy. Another possible reason for fatigue is a poor diet, while a person is ill they do not have a lot of appetite which can cause the body to become weaker and more tired.

How to alleviate: You should rest as much as possible, drink plenty of water, which can help eliminate the virus faster and avoid going to work, class or doing activities that require efforts at home.

Pain in the abdomen, bones and joints

Abdominal pain occurs mainly in children, while pain in the bones and joints usually affects people of all ages. Besides the pain felt, the affected region may also become slightly swollen and reddish.

How to alleviate: Use medications like Paracetamol and Dipyrone to relieve pain and put cold patches on the area to help reduce the swelling in the joints.

2. Hemorrhagic Dengue fever: specific symptoms

The symptoms of hemorrhagic dengue fever can appear up to 3 days after the symptoms of classic dengue and they are:

Hemorrhagic dengue fever symptoms
Hemorrhagic dengue fever symptoms

Besides these symptoms, in some cases, it is also possible to appear other signs such as wet, pale and cold skin and blood pressure can decrease.

What to do if you suspect hemorrhagic dengue: You should go to the hospital immediately to receive proper care because this is very serious and can lead to death if not properly treated at the hospital.

How is the treatment done

The treatment for classic dengue fever is done with analgesics and antipyretics, under medical guidance, such as Paracetamol and Dipyrone to relieve symptoms. You should not take any medication that contains Acetylsalicylic Acid, such as aspirin or ASA, because they can cause bleeding. It is also important for the treatment that you rest and drink a lot of fluids. If you have hemorrhagic dengue fever the treatment should be done in a hospital, with the use of medication and transfusion of platelets.

However, in more severe cases of dengue fever hospitalization may be necessary because dengue can cause other diseases that may cause severe dehydration, liver, blood, heart or respiratory problems, for example.

Dengue symptoms in babies

In infants and children it may be more difficult to differentiate this disease from other common infections, so if the baby has a sudden high fever they should be taken to the nearest health clinic or pediatrician, so that he can request a blood test and indicate the right treatment that may include taking Paracetamol or Dipyrone.

Symptoms in babies can be:

  • High fever, 39 or 40ºC;
  • Prostration or irritability;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Diarrhea and vomiting.

What to do if you suspect your baby is sick: You should take your baby to the pediatrician, health clinic or Emergency Care Unit so that the illness can be correctly diagnosed by a doctor.

Generally, the treatment is done at home and consists of offering fluids to the baby or child, such as water, tea and juices. In addition, it is important to give them foods that are easily digestible such as cooked vegetables and fruits, and cooked chicken or fish. However, the child may not present symptoms, which can make a diagnosis difficult.

See the difference between the symptoms presented above for dengue fever and those that emerge in a common flu.

To avoid and prevent dengue it is very important to flip all bottles upside down, put dirt in the plant dishes and keep the yard free of puddles, since these are great environments for the mosquito larvae to develop.

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