Treatment for Dengue Fever
Not all dengue fever patients are admitted to hospitals for treatment.
The symptoms that warrant hospitalization of patients include:
- Fever for 3 days or longer with lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea
- Evidence of plasma leakage such as low blood pressure of below 20
- Haemorrhagic tendency such as spontaneous bruising and bleeding from
- Neurology manifestation such as irritability, short term memory loss,
restlessness and agitation
- Difficulty in breathing due to fluid in the lungs. Re-absorption of
fluid into blood vessels causes excessive fluid in the lung.
- Pain in the abdomen, indicating liver complication or enlarged liver
For patients that are not admitted due to absence of obvious symptoms,
they are advised to return to the hospital as soon as some of the following
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Lethargy or a feeling of laziness
- Dizziness or fainting
- Breathlessness or difficulty in breathing
- Behavioural change such as restlessness
- Abdominal pain
- Cold sweating skin
- Cold hands and feet
- Reduced or no urine output for over 6 hours (oliguria)
Early detection, treatment and close monitoring determine the chance
of survival of dengue haemorrhagic fever patients.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue fever or dengue haemorrhagic
fever. Only supportive treatment is given to such patients.
- If the patient is dehydrating, adequate fluids are to be taken to
keep the patient hydrated. Patients are advised to drink plenty of water.
Intravenous fluid is administered if the patient is unable to maintain
oral intake, that is, if the patient vomits or purges.
- For severe body ache, painkillers may be needed. For severe headache
and for joint and muscle pain, acetaminophen and codeine may be given.
- If there is significant bleeding, blood or platelet transfusion will
be carried out.
- At the re-absorption or convalescent phase, the intravenous drips
must be removed to prevent excessive water in the blood and lung.
Typical dengue haemorrhagic fever does not result in death. It is fatal
in less than 1% of cases. The critical phase of high fever and plasma
leakage last about one to two weeks. In the hospital, close monitoring
of patient is required in order to provide timely supportive treatment.
Full recovery often takes several weeks.
Early detection, clinical treatment and close monitoring determine the
chance of survival of dengue haemorrhagic fever patients.