Dengue fever in kids: signs, preventive measures and treatment

On one hand monsoons are the harbingers of fun as kids splash in water puddles and get drenched in rain but, on the other hand they also bring with them many season-related illnesses like typhoid, cholera, viral fevers, malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Considering the spiral rise of cases in our country over the last few years, dengue, of all, is really a terrible viral ailment. Since there’s no vaccine available for it in the market, the situation becomes quite dreadful for both parents and the child if he/she gets dengue fever.

Last year my friend’s six year old son was detected with dengue. It started with high temperature which was kept under check whenever the fever medicine was administered. After three days, although the fever got under control but her son still felt lethargic. In the mother’s word, “Next two days I observed him; he would be sitting ideal either on a chair or laying on bed , won’t eat much and started remaining listless which was rather unusual for an active child like him . On the morning of fourth day when he woke up, I observed he was limping.” That’s when she gathered something was amiss and the parents rushed him to hospital.

The doctor checked his blood pressure which was on the lower side and after going through the complete blood check (CBC) reports, confirmed he had dengue. Luckily his was a mild case as the child’s platelet level never dropped drastically. After giving fluid intravenously and with lots of rest, he recovered soon.

Signs of Dengue fever: Gaining insight from my friend’s experience and talking to my kid’s paedritician I came to know that Dengue starts with high fever and the common symptoms of this viral infection are rashes on the skin, abdominal pain and nose bleeding. Besides these, the child might complain of pain in joints and behind the ears. Also the child would feel lazy and tired all the time. It’s advisable to take the child to hospital immediately where the doctor will get the child’s CBC done ( first blood test won’t confirm Dengue as its symptoms doesn’t appear immediately in blood, so repeat it on 3rd day too. )
But as they say prevention is better than cure, so why not be proactive and undertake measures to remain safe from this vector-borne disease.

Preventive measures :
Foremost, maintain cleanliness both at home and your surroundings. Simple measures like getting rid of stagnant water which is mostly found in coolers, flower pots, ornamental fountains or any other receptacles which hold water should be cleaned and kept dry, at least during the months when the dengue cases are on rise. Please remember, during monsoons, water lodging should be avoided at any cost.
Secondly, make sure the dustbin in which you dump wet garbage (kitchen waste) is always covered and the dispose it daily.
Stagnant water and bins are the favorable breeding grounds for mosquitos, so it’s necessary to curb mosquito menace by taking care of these two things.
Thirdly, install mosquito mesh in the doors and windows of your house and if need be, use mosquito nets during night that fits over bed or your child’s cot. Additionally you can either set mosquito trap machines at some strategic locations or spray mosquito repellents in the house every day.
You can also spray repellents in the room which I feel is far more effective a method to kill mosquitoes. Just make sure to cover your nose and mouth while spraying and close the room for some time after you are done. Open the windows to let in the fresh air, at least 15-20 minutes, before using the room. To avoid the risk of breathing in chemicals you can use a good herbal spray, available easily in the market.
Alternatively you can also keep the mosquitoes at bay by burning camphor (kapoor in Hindi) in the room. Keep the room closed for half an hour though before using it.
If not at your home, a mosquito can bite anywhere – parks, public places, friends home etc. Make sure to apply mosquito repellent cream of a good brand on your kids exposed body parts whenever they go out to play. These creams are easy to carry; it can be applied anytime, anywhere. It’s known that dengue mosquito mostly bites during day-time so apply the cream to your kid before he goes to school.
You can also make the child wear mosquito repellent badge or wrist bands, readily available on the market. Since it’s advisable not to use cream on small babies, these bands can be tied to their strollers to keep these pesky creatures away. It’s also helpful if you dress your child in light-color long sleeves t-shirt, full pants and socks before they go out of the house to play to prevent mosquito bite.
Using lavender oil as room-freshener , mixing little tree-tea oil to vaporizer ( the scent in the air kills mosquitoes)or planting insect-repellant shrubs like tulsi, neem ,mint and lemon are some of the natural remedies you could try to keep your surrounding safe from mosquitoes.

Treatment of Dengue:
You never know when, where and how the child could contract this viral infection, so it’s better if you know the remedy of this disease beforehand. A sure-shot cure for dengue is still unavailable and at the most doctors will prescribe Paracetamol (don’t use Ibuprophen or aspirin) to keep the fever in check. In case the child is down with this illness, help him to recover faster by the following methods.
1. Make sure the child gets proper rest. Also known as “backbone fever”, in dengue, the muscles/ joints aches severely and renders the affected child very pale and weak. Utmost care should be taken that his body gets ample rest for recuperation. Light and easily digestible food like khichdi can be given during this time.
2. It is highly recommended that the patient must drink lots of water from the start of the fever. Doctors always recommend drinking lots of fluids, considering it’s not the low-platelet count but severe dehydration which can make the patient condition worse. Drinking water also helps to bring down fever. Soups, coconut water or ORS can also be given along with water which is all helpful in managing symptoms of dengue.
3. Some Ayurveda treatments (only under the proper guidance of ayurvedic doctors) can also prove beneficial. I have read it on a website that to strengthen body’s immune system take 10-15 tulsi (basil) or neem leaves and boil them in water. When the quantity of water is reduced to half, strain the concoction and let the patient drink it lukewarm.
4. Though there is no scientific study to back it but it’s said papaya leaves works miracle for dengue patients. The “papain “enzyme in papaya leaves is said to have positive effects during dengue.
5. Another home remedy is to give orange juice at regular interval of time. It’s said to increase antibodies, thus boosting the immune system. It also helps increase the frequency of urination thus throwing the infection out of the body. Fruits rich in vitamin c like kiwi can be given to kids. Pomegranate juice helps in increase the blood count, thus is a good choice to feed kids.
Taking rest and giving fluids along with lots of love to your child will help him recover within a few days.


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