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Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus transmitted from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. There are no specific medications or antivirals to treat dengue fever so treatment is directed towards the relief of symptoms.

“We advise dengue patients to rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration from high fever, poor oral intake or vomiting. Paracetamol can be taken for the fever and to reduce joint pains. However, pain-relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided as it they may increase bleeding complications,” said Dr Pushpalatha Bangalore Lingegowda, Senior Consultant from the Department of Infectious Disease at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Dengue fever usually lasts between 2 to 7 days. Most people recover from dengue infection without requiring hospital admission.

4 Things to do to recover from dengue fever fast

1. Maintain adequate hydration

Drink plenty of fluids (water, isotonic drinks, fruit juices and soup) to maintain hydration. Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks with high sugar content which may cause dehydration If you are unable to drink due to nausea or vomiting, fluids may be given intravenously by drip.

2. Keep symptoms under control

Fever and joint pains can be relieved by taking paracetamol. Medications may be prescribed for nausea, vomiting and if there are itchy rashes. Rashes usually resolve on its own over two to three weeks.

Avoid pain-relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and mefenamic acid) as they may cause gastric ulcers and subsequent bleeding in your stomach or intestines. Some of these medications may thin the blood and increase chances of bleeding leading to complications requiring hospital admission. If unsure, please consult your doctor.

3. Avoid bleeding

Rest in bed, reduce risk of falls and injuries to avoid risk of unnecessary bleeding. Intramuscular injections should be avoided. If you develop bleeding, bruises or swellings while recovering from dengue fever, please contact your doctor or nurse immediately.

4. Foods to eat and avoid

When asked about foods to eat for healing, Dr Pushpalatha answered, "There are no specific foods to eat or avoid, however the common dictum when one falls sick from any illness applies such as avoid raw, greasy or fat, spicy foods. Light and easy to digest food is advised when one is sick."

When to see a doctor immediately

Please see a doctor immediately If you develop any of following symptoms:

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Persistent vomiting

  • Vomiting blood

  • Black and tarry stools

  • Bleeding from the nose or gums

  • Drowsiness or irritability

  • Pale, cold, or clammy (sweaty) skin

  • Difficulty breathing

FAQs about dengue fever

1. What are the symptoms for dengue fever?

Dengue fever symptoms include:

  • Fever (which can last up to 7 days)

  • Intense headache with pain behind the eyes

  • Body aches and joint pain

  • Rashes

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Mild bleeding (such as nose or gum bleeds) or easy bruising

2. How is dengue fever diagnosed?

As dengue fever symptoms are similar to other viral illnesses such as influenza, typhoid fever, malaria and mosquito borne infections like Chikungunya and Zika, your doctor will conduct clinical assessments and blood tests at regular intervals to determine which stage of dengue you are at. Tests include:

  • Full blood count: To assess blood concentration, platelet count and white blood cells

  • Dengue diagnostic tests: To confirm the dengue diagnosis

  • Kidney and liver tests: To check for dehydration, kidney and liver function

  • Other tests: Based on your condition

3. If I have dengue, will I spread it to others?

Dengue fever does not spread directly from person to person. However, a person with dengue fever can infect a mosquito when he or she is bitten and infected mosquitoes in turn can infect healthy people by biting them.

4. Can I get dengue fever again if I’ve been infected before?

There are 4 strains of the dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. Once you recover from one strain, you are unlikely to contract the same strain as your body would have built immunity against it. However, you may get dengue fever again from the other dengue strains.

“First-time dengue infections can be severe, especially among the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. But repeat dengue infections have been associated with higher risk of severe dengue (also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome) which can be fatal,” explained Dr Pushpalatha.

“So it is important that everyone be vigilant in the prevention of dengue.”

Ref: J22

Check out other articles on dengue and mosquito borne infections:

Dengue: Latest Updates in Singapore and Internationally

How to Protect Yourself and Family From Dengue

Severe Dengue: Symptoms to Look Out For

Chikungunya: What Is It

Zika: What You Need to Know