What is Dengue? Its Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common to the tropical and subtropical places around the world. Dengue is also known as breakbone fever. It is caused by any one of four types of virus and is spread by female Aedes aegypti and rarely by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.

It is estimated that each year about 390 million dengue infections occur, of which 96 million results in illness worldwide. In the last decade, India saw the highest number of dengue cases and deaths due to it in 2017. The rate of increase was more than 300% with 188,401 in 2017 as compared to less than 60,000 in 2009.


The virus is transmitted through an infected mosquito. When an infected mosquito bites a healthy individual the virus gets transmitted to the other person. The virus would be also be transmitted if a normal Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito bites an infected person and goes on to bite a healthy person later.

A person may suffer from dengue more than once and the second infection increases the risk of developing a more severe form.

Symptoms of Dengue

Dengue fever ranges from mild to severe and symptoms may start to show up after 4 to 7 days of the mosquito bite. The symptoms of dengue last typically for 3 to 7 days. 

A patient suffering from a mild degree of dengue would experience:

  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aches and pains in joints, muscles, back of the eyes, and bone
  • Intense headache
  • Rash

Symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)

The symptoms that may be mild at the start of DHF worsen within a few days or even a few hours. Without proper and prompt treatment DHF could result in death. Along with the symptoms of mild dengue, a DHF patient exhibits:

  • Clammy skin
  • Bleeding from the gums, mouth or nose
  • Damage to blood vessels and lymph nodes
  • Internal bleeding leading to black feces or stools or vomit
  • Sensitive stomach
  • Lowering of the platelet counts
  • Weak pulse
  • Small blood spots noticed under the skin

Symptoms of dengue shock syndrome (DSS)

This severe form of dengue can be fatal. In addition to the symptoms of mild dengue a patient suffering from DSS would also exhibit:

  • Intense stomach pain
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Disorientation
  • Regular vomiting
  • A fast drop in blood pressure levels or sudden hypotension
  • Fluid leaking from blood vessels


Dengue symptoms are similar to malaria and typhoid fever which may cause a delay in accurate diagnosis. It is always advisable to visit a doctor as soon as the symptoms develop for a quick and proper diagnosis. The doctor would check the medical and travel history of the patient and would recommend blood tests to confirm the ailment.


There is no treatment or cure directed specific to dengue virus and only symptomatic and supportive treatment is given.

The milder form of dengue can be treated with painkillers, however it is always recommended to consult a doctor before starting on any form of medication. Since vomiting leads to dehydration, it is important to re-hydrate the body with plenty of fluids. To reduce the risk of internal bleeding, it is advisable not to administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin.

In advanced or severe forms of dengue, intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation or drip needs to be given to avoid dehydration. For a patient experiencing a severe decrease in platelet count, platelet transfusion may be needed. Consult the treating physician to know if hospitalization is required. 

It is extremely important to take adequate rest during and post dengue treatment to ensure complete healing. 


In severe cases of dengue, the lungs, heart, and liver may get damaged. The blood pressure may go down to a dangerous level, causing shock and unfortunately death in some cases.

Early diagnosis makes the treatment faster and easier. So, if you are experiencing symptoms of dengue or know someone who is, then look no further, book a lab test now: https://www.nightingales.in/lab-tests/tests/dengue-antibody-igg-rapid-lab/55c0e29002c54d0c001bfd33.

Reference- https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/number-of-dengue-cases-in-2017-was-the-highest-in-a-decade-60982

Image Credits – People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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