DENGUE SYMPTOMS IN CHILDREN: CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS AND PREVENTION: As a young girl I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories and in many of them Dr. Watson talks about his days in Afghanistan and India. Once when he sees an ailing client of Sherlock’s in a dingy Opium Den, he is shocked and immediately tells him: This is real foul play, because this is a case of Tropical Fever! You bet. I have seen many dying because of it in India, but not here!
The tropical fever also referred to as “break bone fever” because of the symptoms it causes, is commonly known as dengue and is one of the reasons for concern in monsoons. We all look forward to monsoons after long months of restless, tropical summers. But, rains get more woes for our little ones and us, in addition to removing muddy patches from white uniforms. And definitely lasting longer. So here are a few things you must know as a parent about the DENGUE SYMPTOMS IN CHILDREN: CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS AND PREVENTION
Symptoms of Dengue Fever in Children:
The rain brings along the Aedes Mosquitoes: the universal carrier of virus spreading deadly diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya. Dengue generally starts like a viral fever in younger children, a runny nose, cough, and a mild rash on the skin. Not all children will have all the symptoms and may have either one or more of the following. Some children may show mild sign and symptoms of dengue that usually appear anytime within four days to two weeks after they first get the bite from the dengue-carrying infected mosquito. The dengue signs and symptoms in children, once they appear, will stay for about two to seven days.
- High fever – up to 105.8°C
- Joint pains and dull and continuous pain behind the eyes
- Frequent headaches and chills
- Red and white patchy rashes, itchiness on the soles of the feet: Your child may seem to get bruised easily. The body rashes can also be itchy and may show up after a few days when the fever first begins.
- Common cough and cold
- Abdominal pain, Vomiting or Nausea
- Bleeding from nose and gums: The reason this could happen is that your child will experience a low platelet count due to dengue fever.
- Dehydration and loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
Causes of Dengue in Children:
Dengue is caused when bitten by Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The mosquito bites an infected human, carries the dengue virus and now whoever it bites contracts dengue. Dengue does not pass from a person to person; rather it’s the mosquito which carries the virus. There are four different viruses that cause dengue fever. Once infected by a particular virus, the person become immune to it, but the danger of getting infected by other three viruses still exists.
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 distinguishing mark on the female tiger mosquito is the black and white stripes all over its legs and body.
Diagnosis of Dengue in children:
- As a parent you will definitely observe a difference in the behaviour of the child. S/he will be easily irritated, tired and depressed. The usual restlessness and liveliness will be missing as will be their appetite. Dengue renders a person very pale and weak.
- In addition to it, will be the physical symptoms of rashes, fever and joint pain that the child will start complaining about. But since there is a very thin line differentiating the fever from chikungunya to dengue, you better rush to the doctor, if the fever or the rashes don’t stop.
At the Doctor’s Clinic:
- The doctor will ask you several questions related to the early symptoms of dengue in child and exposure to mosquitoes of him; your travel history etc.
- He will advise a blood test to detect presence of dengue virus.
- Occasionally, a complete blood count may also be suggested to check how badly the blood platelets have dropped
Prevention of Dengue in Children:
There is no vaccine to treat dengue hence prevention is the only key to safeguard your children. The best way is not to let any mosquitoes breed near your house, the child’s surroundings and the parks or gardens.
General Prevention: Hygiene and Sanitation of your surroundings
- Maintain a clean and hygienic environment.
- Get rid of all stagnant water, which may be accumulated in Cooler tanks, flower pots, water buckets at home – dengue mosquitoes breed here.
- Close windows and doors before evening, as this is the time when mosquitoes try to enter home.
- Try installing mosquito mesh – at least to the doors and windows of your child’s room.
- Use mosquito nets at night.
- Use natural remedies such as spraying bleaching powder in and around the house, placing neem leaves at corners of the house.
Personal Prevention: Use of Mosquito Repellents
- Use mosquito repellent creams such as Odomos, sprays, mats, coils and /or bands which can be applied anytime anywhere
- Dress your children in full sleeved T-shirts and full track pants/ leggings when they play in the evenings or beyond the sunset.
- Use light colored play clothes esp. in the evenings as the mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours.
- Make sure they do not play in parks/ gardens where the grass is tall and where there is stagnant water around. Such areas can be best for mosquitoes to breed, and your child will have a high chance of getting a mosquito bite.
- Since rest and nutritious light diet is the only way to get rid of dengue, you can try some home remedies to prevent dengue. Use Tulsi leaves (Basil leaves) and / or papaya leaves to cure the dengue fever.
As a parent, I know how difficult it is to engage the children indoors for a long time. Also as the old saying goes: All work and no play will make John dull, try to make the children come back home before sunset and engage them through interesting activities at home. Something more about that next time. Till then
P.S.- All the advice given in this article is based on my experiences as a parent and what I have seen in Dengue cases in my neighbourhood. Remember, your child may / may not show all the symptoms and may be stronger in fighting it out. So, do consult the doctor prior to giving any medication to your child.
Happy Parenting with Budding Star
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