Is that fever ‘Dengue’?
In a country like India, we are used to various kinds of fevers and infections that range from mild to acute. Not all fevers are a reason to panic because, more than anything, they reflect that the body’s immune system is at work trying to fight it off.
In their growing years, children also get fever as a reaction to vaccines, while travelling to a new place, or merely with seasonal changes. However, fevers like Dengue and Malaria, which are transmitted by specific mosquito bites can be a cause for concern.
So, what do I do when the child is running a temperature?
The first step is to always bring your paediatrician or family doctor in the loop. Let him/her know what the child is feeling.
Secondly, in case the fever is more than 102 degrees F / 38 degrees C, along with the prescribed medication, give the child a sponge wipe to help the temperature come down to normal. Ensure that your child stays hydrated, and keeps drinking water at regular intervals.
What is a Dengue fever like?
Though it appears like a regular fever at first, there are other indicators that indicate Dengue. These include:
- Fever. Temperature can rise up to 100 F or 38.8C
- Acute headache
- Severe pain in the eyes, joints muscles or bones
- Skin rash all over
- Mild bleeding of nose or gums
- In degrees Fahrenheit: 98.4
- In degrees Celsius :37
- Symptoms can surface after 4 to 14 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- Dengue lasts for 2 to 7 days. After recovery, children as well adults are prone to feel intense weakness and exhaustion.
- Caution: In extreme cases, it can be fatal.
So then, what is the cure?
A viral fever like dengue should be attended to by your family doctor or pediatrician first. Like other viral infections, it needs to be flushed out of the system with the help of prescribed medicines (usually crocin), lots of fluids and plenty of rest.
Your paediatrician will guide you to include natural supplements in the diet, especially fruits. The child’s regular meals should be non-spicy, light, and easy to digest.
But can it be prevented?
The best thing one can do as a parent, is take precautionary measures. This is to safeguard your child from mosquitoes on a daily basis, thereby reducing the risk. Some of these are:
- Make your child wear long sleeved tops, full length pants / jeans and socks and shoes while going out to play.
- Apply a drop of natural citronella oil on the sleeves and trousers of your child, especially in the evenings. If unavailable, use a mild mosquito repellent cream or roll on, which should only be applied on the clothes, and not the skin.
- Make sure your children and their friends are home before it gets dark. Late evening onwards mosquitoes become more active.
- In the house, make sure that there is no stagnant water collecting (eg. near plants, pet bowls, bird feeders, flower vases or in kitchen corners), where these insects can lay their eggs and breed.
- Mop the house regularly with a few drops of natural oil like citronella, eucalyptus or lemongrass.
- Install sliding nets on window sills and balconies. If possible have a net around your child’s bed at night.
- Keep your home’s windows and doors shut after dusk.
While you follow these precautions, as a parent you should know that you are already doing your best, all the time. So don’t keep feeling guilty each time your child feels unwell. These are apart and parcel of a child’s growing up, no matter how much you try to protect them. Instead, work on improving their immunity through natural supplements, regular exercise and a happy attitude towards life. Also, don’t forget to attend to your own health and wellbeing.
Note: This article is only a guide to help you understand Dengue, but is not a substitute for any actual diagnosis by a qualified medical professional.