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All you need to know about dengue fever

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can have potentially lethal complications if not given proper medical care. Singapore has seen an alarming rise of dengue cases this year with 1,468 cases reported in a week in June 2020, more than double the figure compared to the same period over the last 4 years.

Dengue cases
Number of Reported Cases by E-week

We answer some of the common questions you may have about dengue to help you to better understand and take the right steps to protecting yourself against the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dengue Fever

What are the symptoms?

Patients of dengue fever may have some of the following symptoms of high fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, pain behind the eyes, vomiting, diarrhoea, or nausea. Severe dengue would have worsened symptoms, including abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, vomiting blood, bleeding gums, rapid breathing, and fatigue.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see a doctor immediately.

Is dengue fever fatal?

Severe dengue fever can damage organs such as the lungs, liver and heart. Blood pressure can drop drastically and in some cases it can even cause death. So far this year, 12 people aged between 56 and 80 have died of dengue.

Do I need to see a doctor?

While there is no specific medication to treat dengue fever, you should check with a doctor on the correct medication to treat the symptoms and the level of care needed. Paracetamol can be used to bring down fever and reduce joint pains but not all pain-relieving drugs are suitable as they can cause complications, e.g. aspirin.

Do I need to go to the hospital?

While most mild symptoms do not need hospitalisation, about 1 in 5 people diagnosed with severe dengue symptoms will require hospital care. With resources being taxed to fight COVID-19, we must do our best to prevent dengue fever from spreading.

How is dengue treated?

As dengue fever is caused by a virus, and there is no specific medication or antibiotic to treat it. The rule of thumb is to get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from the vomiting and diarrhoea. Aim for clear or pale urine to know that you are taking sufficient water.

What foods should I eat?

You may have heard of papaya leaves and guava being touted as foods that help in treating dengue fever. There is no scientific data to back these claims. However, guava is rich in Vitamin C. Consuming guava and other whole fruits like strawberries and oranges rich in Vitamin C will help strengthen the immune system. Choose foods that are easy to swallow and digest such as porridge and soft foods.

Can dengue fever recur?

There are 4 strains of dengue fever. Once you recover from one strain, your body would have built immunity against it. However, you may pick up repeated dengue fevers from the other strains.

It has been observed that during a recurring dengue fever, the chances of a severe dengue episode becomes higher.

How can I prevent dengue?

The best prevention is to reduce your chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes. Actions you can take include,

  • Wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, and socks
  • Using a mosquito repellent
  • Installing window screens or nettings
  • Eliminating stagnant water which are mosquito breeding locations such as watering cans, buckets, clogged drains

Experiencing suspected symptoms of dengue fever? Speak to a doctor online now.

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