Are you worried about the recent dengue fever epidemic affecting children? You may be taking a lot of precautions to make sure that your children are safe, but sometimes, they just fall sick. Are you worried?, If yes, then check for the symptoms of dengue in children.
If you have witnessed the sudden outbreak of dengue fever in children and want to make sure your children are safe and protected, read on to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of dengue fever in children.
What Is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is also called breakbone fever in the medical world. The fever occurs when an infected mosquito bites your child and often results in rashes. Dengue is a type of tropical disease that is caused by the dengue virus. In some cases, dengue fever can also become severe and lead to more complicated health concerns, which may even turn fatal. One of the biggest risks that a person suffering from the dengue fever has is dengue hemorrhagic fever or DHF. It is a life threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention (1).
The dengue virus is found in five different types. In most cases, once a person gets the infection, there is lifelong immunity against that particular virus and short term immunity against the other types.
Causes Of Dengue In Children:
The dengue fever can show up in your child if your child has been bitten by an infected mosquito that is carrying the dengue virus. The most common type of mosquito that helps to spread dengue fever further is the female tiger mosquito. It is a type of mosquito found in the tropical and subtropical areas in South East Asia and is also known by the name of Asian tiger mosquito. The main differentiating mark on the female tiger mosquito is the black and white stripes all over its legs and body (2).
[ Read: Mosquito Bites In Children ]
Symptoms Of Dengue In Children:
In many cases, your child may not exhibit any symptoms that point towards the dengue fever. Some children may show mild symptoms that usually appear anytime within four days to two weeks after they first get the bite from the dengue-carrying infected mosquito. The symptoms, once they appear, will stay for about two to seven days.
In case your child does contract dengue fever, you should watch out for the following signs and symptoms. Also, remember that not all children will have all the symptoms and may have either one or more of the following. In the event that you do notice the symptoms mentioned below, make sure to speak to your child’s doctor and schedule an appointment:
In case of infants or toddlers, the symptoms will be as follows:
- A runny nose.
- A small skin rash or a few skin rashes.
- A slight cough.
- A sudden temperature that can shoot up to a high fever very fast.
In case of older children, the symptoms will be as follows:
- A dull and continuous pain behind the eyes and in the various joints in the body.
- A sudden temperature that can shoot up to a high fever very fast.
- Pain in the back and headaches.
- Your child may seem to get bruised easily and may show a bruised patch on the skin from even a minor bump.
- Sudden bleeding from various parts of the body, like the gums or the nose. The reason this could happen is that your child will experience a low platelet count due to dengue fever. The platelets are important components of your child’s blood and help the blood to clot, thus preventing excessive bleeding. In a normal case, the platelet levels are usually between 150000 and 450000 per ml.
- Moreover, your child will most likely also develop a skin rash that will look like a red and white patch on the skin. The rash can also be itchy and may show up after a few days when the fever first begins.
Once the patchy rash appears on the skin, you will be able to spot more signs and symptoms of dengue fever in children such as the following:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- A constant feeling of itching on the soles of the feet.
- Decrease in or complete loss of appetite (3).
[ Read: Reasons For Loss Of Appetite In Children ]
Apart from all the above symptoms, if your child has dengue fever, you will notice that your child is constantly feeling tired and exhausted, despite resting and sleeping well. The same feeling can continue for some time even after your child has completely recovered from dengue fever.
Symptoms Of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) In Children:
In some cases that are serious, a regular case of dengue fever can turn to a more serious condition that is known as the dengue hemorrhagic fever or the DHF. Another serious condition that can occur when the regular dengue fever becomes severe is known as the Dengue Shock Syndrome, or the DSS. Both the conditions are life-threatening conditions and have the following dengue symptoms in child:
- Sudden and continuous bleeding from any part of the body.
- A quick dip in the levels of blood pressure.
- A sudden shock that is caused due to excessive and sudden bleeding or due to a leakage in the blood vessels.
- Failure of different organs.
[ Read: Low Blood Pressure In Children ]
Diagnosing Dengue Fever In Kids:
In case, you notice any of the symptoms we mention above, speak to your child’s doctor immediately. If your child has recently traveled somewhere and is complaining of a headache or pain in the body, make sure to speak to your child’ doctor and take an appointment. Your child’s doctor will use the following methods to diagnose whether or not it is a case of dengue fever:
- The doctor will first physically examine your child to check for the various signs and symptoms.
- The doctor will also ask you about any previous medical conditions that your child has had and if your child has traveled anywhere in the recent past.
- Once the doctor has performed the initial physical examination and has got all the required medical details, you will have to send a sample of your child’s blood to test for the disease.
Treatment For Dengue Fever In Children:
As of now, there is no specific treatment available for the dengue fever. Here are a few things you can keep in mind when it comes to treating dengue fever in child:
- If your child has a mild fever and very mild symptoms that are a result of the dengue fever, the doctor will first ask you to give your child lots of fluids. Taking lots of fluids will help your child from getting dehydrated. In addition to giving lots of fluids, your child’s doctor will also recommend a lot of rest and sleep.
[ Read: Dehydration In Children ]
- In some cases, if your child complains of a lot of headache or pain in the joints or other parts of the body, and if it actually is distressing for your child, the doctor may also recommend some pain killers. One of the most common painkillers that your child’s doctor may prescribe is acetaminophen, which is known to help relieve a headache and the aches that occur as a result of the dengue fever. Make sure that you do not give your child any pain killer that has aspirin or ibuprofen, as it can increase your child’s chances of bleeding.
- In most of the cases, the symptoms of the dengue fever will subside and go away within one to two weeks, without causing any further complications. In case, your child’s symptoms have turned severe or if the symptoms do not seem to get any better, even with the use of medication and rest, you should immediately inform the doctor about the same. It could point towards a case of dengue hemorrhagic fever which can soon turn into a life-threatening condition if it is not treated on time.
- In case your child is suffering from a severe case of dengue fever, the doctor will keep your child in the hospital for immediate further treatment and monitoring. Your child will be given intravenous (IV) fluids as well as salts known as electrolytes. Both the IV treatment and the electrolytes will help to keep your child hydrated and will prevent dehydration that can be caused when your child loses body fluids due to vomiting or even diarrhea. Such treatment is known as fluid therapy.
- In the event that your child has immediately been placed on fluid therapy, the symptoms will soon get better and will not escalate to any further medical complication. Also, once your child starts to get better, there will be no need of any further special treatment.
- However, if your child’s condition has deteriorated and if the doctor feels that the fluid therapy is not enough, your child may require a transfusion. The doctor will use the transfusion procedure to help replace the blood that your child may have lost (4)
Preventing Dengue Fever In Children:
As there is no specific treatment that can help to treat dengue fever, it is important that you take necessary precautions in time. Doing so will not only help to keep your child safe and healthy but in case your child does have dengue fever, it will help to prevent the situation from worsening further.
With the rainy season on, there are high chances of water accumulating at places and being breeding grounds for dengue-causing mosquitoes.
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Here are a few other things you should try and take care of to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and to help your child from being bitten by one:
- Make sure that you use special anti-mosquito screens and nets on your door and window frames. Always look for any signs of tear or cuts and repair or replace any damaged screens as mosquitoes can use the limited space to enter through the cut and come in your child’s vicinity. Close the screens shut as soon as it is afternoon, and if you have a large number of mosquitoes in your area, keep the screens shut at all times of the day as well as the night.
- Make your children wear clothes that will keep almost all parts of their bodies covered. Help them to dress up in clothes that have long sleeves, long trouser pants or leggings as well as ask them to wear proper socks and shoes every time they step out of the house.
- Use a mosquito net over your child’s bed to prevent any accidental appearance of mosquitoes that can bite your children while they are asleep.
- You can check with your child’s doctor about a mosquito repellent that you can safely use around your children. Use it at home and also ask about a cream or lotion that you can apply for your child to keep the mosquitoes from biting your child. Make sure that before your children go out of the house each time, they first apply the mosquito repellent cream or lotion and only then step out.
- Ask your children to spend less time outdoors and instead do something more creative and fun inside the house. If your children do go out to play, make sure that they are back inside the house a good amount of time before the sun sets. Also, make sure they do not play in an area where the grass is tall and where there is stagnant water around. Such spots can be dangerous sites where mosquitoes breed, and your child will have a high chance of getting a mosquito bite.
- Take care that you try and remove as many potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes as possible. Mosquitoes breed fast and well in places where there is stagnant water. Check for stagnant water in areas in and around your home such as a bird bath, a pet water bowl, under the flower vases and so on. Keep your house and the area around it as dry and clean as possible.
The dengue epidemic is something that can affect your child, and as there is no medical cure, it is important to be careful and take the necessary steps. Watch out for any symptoms and make sure you get your child the required medical attention.
Moms, do you know of any child who was diagnosed with dengue fever? What was the treatment procedure? Do share your knowledge with other moms here as it can help someone.
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