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Dengue In Children: 8 Serious Symptoms Parents Should Know

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the dengue virus (DENV) and spread by the Aedes mosquitoes. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 400 million people are infected with dengue every year globally.

When a person is bitten by the mosquito carrying the virus, it usually takes 4-6 days for the symptoms to appear. High fever, persistent headaches, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pain are the usual symptoms.

Several states in India have reported an increase in dengue cases. With the onset of the monsoons, vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, and chikungunya tend to increase in the June-July period. As a result, cases have recently increased, especially in West Bengal, Bhopal, Uttar Pradesh, and in cities such as Delhi and Bangalore [1].

Dengue In Children: What Parents Should Know

Dengue is characterised by a sudden onset of fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain (so-called "break-bone fever"), and a rash over the body. The patient may also experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea due to gastritis [2].

The symptoms of dengue in children differ slightly from those in adults. Kids can suffer from mild and severe dengue symptoms depending on whether this is their first time getting the disease. For example, children with dengue fever usually present mild symptoms, but older children and adults with earlier infections may present moderate to severe symptoms.

How To Recognise Dengue In Children?

There has been an increase in dengue fever cases in recent weeks. Knowing when to seek medical treatment and approaching your physician is imperative. First, only one out of four children bitten by a mosquito will develop symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease.

In most cases, the symptoms are mild, such as fever, rash, joint pains, and body aches. However, headaches, particularly behind the eye, are characteristic symptoms of dengue fever, even though they are not necessarily dangerous [3][4].

Severe Dengue Symptoms In Children

These are the most common severe dengue symptoms in children [5]:

  • A severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting that does not respond to medication
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood in the stools
  • Water retention in the body
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Blood in the urine
  • Breathing difficulties or rapid breathing
  • Lethargy, restlessness, or irritability

In severe dengue, platelets are lowered and/or plasma leaks from the blood vessels. The result can be a shock, internal bleeding, or even death. Therefore, it is important to recognise these symptoms. Usually, warning signs appear 24 to 48 hours after a fever has subsided.

How Long Does Dengue Fever Last?

It is common for symptoms to start between four days and two weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito, and they typically last between two and seven days.

Once the fever has subsided, other symptoms can become more severe, including severe bleeding; gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, or severe abdominal (belly) pain, and respiratory problems such as difficulty breathing. Without treatment, it can result in dehydration, heavy bleeding, and a rapid drop in blood pressure (shock). Therefore, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible for these symptoms [6].

How Is Dengue In Children Treated?

Dengue fever does not have a specific treatment. Mild cases should be treated with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and plenty of rest. Acetaminophen-containing pain relievers can ease the headaches and pain associated with dengue fever. Aspirin and ibuprofen-containing pain relievers should be avoided, as they can cause bleeding [7].

Dengue fever usually disappears within a week or two and does not cause any lasting symptoms. However, in the event of severe disease symptoms, or if symptoms worsen in the first day or two after a fever has passed, medical attention should be sought immediately.

In the case of severe cases of dengue fever, doctors will administer intravenous fluids and electrolytes (salts) to replace those lost through vomiting or diarrhoea. Usually, starting the treatment early is sufficient to treat the disease effectively. However, blood transfusions may be necessary in more severe cases [8].

Story first published: Tuesday, August 16, 2022, 16:16 [IST]
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