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Complications of Dengue Fever

Complications of Dengue Fever

by: Dr. Sorabh Goel
Consultant - Neonatology-Paras Bliss, Panchkula

Dengue fever is an acute viral infection characterized by fever. It is caused by a bite from mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus. The primary form of Dengue Fever is characterized by a skin rash and a high fever with severe pain in the head and muscles. Other symptoms may include shaking chills, diarrhea, and vomiting. Bouts of extreme exhaustion may last for months after the initial symptoms

Dengue fever can result in the following complications:

  • Dengue haemorrhagic fever
  • Dengue shock syndrome

These two conditions are rare in occasional travelers to endemic areas, being more common in people who live in an area affected by Dengue and have been repeatedly exposed to the virus.

Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a potentially fatal complication of dengue that can cause an enlarged liver and, in severe cases, can lead to shock (a sudden drop in blood pressure). This is called dengue shock syndrome.

Symptoms of dengue haemorrhagic fever are the same as those for dengue, but there are sometimes also:

  • Tiny spots of blood on the skin
  • Larger patches of blood under the skin
  • Bleeding from your gums and nose
  • A weak pulse and clammy skin
  • Sweatiness
  • A tender abdomen (tummy) and body
  • Discomfort (malaise)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • A sore throat and cough

Four different strains of the dengue virus can cause this complication. If you have previously been infected with one strain of dengue and are infected again with a different strain of the virus, this can cause dengue haemorrhagic fever.

Previous immunity (the body’s ability to resist infection) to a different strain of dengue virus plays a role in this serious complication.

You are also at an increased risk of getting dengue hemorrhagic fever if you are female and under 12 years of age.

The main feature of treatment for dengue haemorrhagic fever is keeping the patient’s fluids at the right level to prevent dehydration.

Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS)

This is a complication of dengue haemorrhagic fever in which the symptoms above can be accompanied by symptoms of shock.

Symptoms of shock include:

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • A weak rapid pulse
  • Dry mouth
  • Irregular breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Reduced flow of urine

Mortality rates can be as high as 40% if this serious complication is not treated. If it is treated, the mortality rate is 1-2%.

If you have any symptoms of dengue, dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, seek immediate medical help to prevent the disease progressing

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