PODCAST ON DENGUE: FROM THE DESK OF DR. JAYA KUMAR REDDY, PEDIATRICIAN, APOLLO CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, CHENNAI

The wet days are Dengue’s favorite season. It is during this time of the year that this fever normally manifests itself in the form of high grade fever, headache, body pain, joint pain, and stomach pain.

While we shouldn’t panic on sighting these symptoms in our children, we have to be on a constant watch-out. For instance, if we find the high grade fever persisting beyond three days, we should immediately seek the doctor’s advice. In a way, it’s also the right time to proceed to the next step, ‘cause, it’s only after three days that the testing shows accurate results. Not before.

If the child does test positive for dengue, the first and foremost thing for us to remember is, we shouldn’t rush to admit our child to the hospital. Just report the result to the doctor. The doctor would look for certain conditions before recommending hospitalization.

For instance, the high grade fever persisting for more than four days or the fever triggering fits could necessitate the child getting admitted to the hospital. Or, if the child doesn’t eat properly, suffers from nausea and keeps throwing up, or if urination doesn’t happen to the needed levels, the doctor would recommend admission. 

Coming to medication, dengue being a viral fever doesn’t need antibiotics. Paracetamol – as prescribed by your doctor – being given at correct time intervals is all it needs.

What it also needs is, proper fluid management. That is, the child has to be kept hydrated well enough, with ample fluid intake. By checking the urine output, we’ll know whether the child is well hydrated or not. Ensuring good hydration levels is, in fact, more critical than tracking platelet counts. To put it another way, if the child is well hydrated, the platelet count will take care of itself automatically.

Getting to know certain other facts and guidelines would also help our understanding and handling dengue, the way it should be.

  • The virus spreads through the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes and not through human contact. It’s not a contagion.
  • Using skin friendly mosquito repellents and wearing clothes that cover arms and legs would help.
  • By keeping our house exteriors clean and clear of any fresh water stagnation, we would, to a great extent, be able to contain the breeding of dengue mosquitoes.
  • It pays for us to be careful even after the child gets cured of dengue. Because, the possibility of a re-infection can’t be ruled out, as there are four identified strains of dengue. One goes… another could come in. So, we gotta be alert on this point.
  • We should remember that 90% of children getting affected by dengue are absolutely safe. Because, it’s only a viral fever. It’s only those who fall under the remaining 10% that would need critical care. If our child does test positive for dengue, she or he will be mostly under the 90% category. Therefore, there’s definitely no need for us to lose our nerves. All we need to do is, constantly monitor our child to identify if they develop any complications and if they do, get them to the hospital in time.

To encapsulate, we shouldn’t be as much concerned about the onset of dengue as we should be about the timely action… that is, early diagnosis, appropriate symptomatic treatment, and good fluid management. Do all of these, we can be 100% sure that our child will be cured of the viral fever much faster than we could ever imagine.

Here’s wishing you and your child the best of health. As always.

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