Dengue Alert: How to Spot Dengue Symptoms in Infants
With the flu making rounds and unpredictable weather causing severe temperature dips and torrential rain, children are more susceptible to illness. With rain comes mosquitoes, and with mosquitoes comes the biggest menace- Dengue. This is one disease that can easily be confused with flu.
For any parent, nothing is more distressing than watching your child fall ill, especially infants, because they cannot convey what's wrong with them and how they want to be assisted. Besides, Dengue is not a disease to be taken lightly.
To protect infants from Dengue, it is imperative to identify the symptoms and manage the disease before it gets out of hand. Let’s get right into the topic without further delay.
How Does Dengue Affect Infants & How Does it Spread?
Dengue is a vector-borne disease that spreads through the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The mosquitoes become infected by biting the people carrying the virus responsible for the disease.
Dengue can infect anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, in infants, the illness progresses very fast, making it difficult to identify the early stages. As a result, it is challenging to spot the usual symptoms such as:
- Body pain
- Abdominal discomfort
The initial dengue symptoms in infants manifest as loose stools, cough, and a runny nose. Parents often mistake these symptoms for digestive and respiratory diseases, which is an additional challenge in identifying the disease.
Why are infants more prone to Dengue?
Compared to adults and older children, an infant’s immune system is underdeveloped. Their limited antibody count exposes them to various bacterial and viral infections. Hence, they are more susceptible to the disease, especially when traveling to an area with an increased dengue risk.
Dengue Fever in Infants: Important Pointers to Note
Parents must educate themselves about Dengue and clarify doubts or misconceptions about the disease. Here are some must-know facts about Dengue:
- Dengue fever is NOT transmissible from person to person. The virus can only be spread through an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
- The virus accumulates in the mosquito’s proboscis or the mouth-like part that pierces the skin while biting someone infected with Dengue. When the infected mosquito bites an infant, the virus is transmitted to the infant, thus making them fall sick with Dengue.
- The dengue fever virus has four strains- Dengue 1, 2, 3, and 4. The child can be infected with any one of these four strains.
- A person can become infected with Dengue more than once in their lifetime.
- Infants with dengue fever remain susceptible to re-infection with other strains of the virus, and untreated cases increase the risk of contracting the disease up to four times as they grow up.
Telltale Signs of Dengue in Infants: Symptoms to Look Out For
Infants can only communicate their distress by crying but cannot be specific about their reason or location of discomfort. Symptoms of Dengue in infants are difficult to recognize since they are similar to other common childhood illnesses.
Here are the signs that your child may be infected with Dengue. Kindly seek IMMEDIATE medical help if your infant has any of the following symptoms:
Low-grade fever (less than 36°C or 96.8°F) accompanied by:
- Lack of appetite
- Rapid breathing
- Occurrence of body rashes
- Vomiting more than thrice in 24 hours
- Unusual bleeding through the gums, nose, or bruises
These symptoms can quickly escalate in infants and go from bad to worse within a few hours. Hence, it is imperative to be vigilant about your infant's symptoms and seek immediate medical help at the earliest.
How will doctors diagnose Dengue in infants?
Your doctor will first check your child’s body temperature and conduct a physical examination to ascertain the presence of rashes on your baby’s body. If your child has had a high fever for more than 24 hours, they will prescribe a comprehensive blood test to confirm Dengue and ascertain the severity of the disease.
Dengue Fever Treatment & Cure: What You Need to Know
The medical world has yet to find a definitive cure for Dengue. Until now, the only way to treat Dengue is with supportive care and plenty of fluid intake both orally and intravenously.
If your infant displays symptoms of dengue fever, it is important to note that antibiotics are ineffective in treating this viral infection. Instead, you should:
- Give paracetamol medication and sponge baths to reduce the body temperature before it leads to febrile seizures.
- Breastfeed your baby to replenish their body with adequate fluids and prevent dehydration in case they have diarrhea and vomiting.
- Monitor your child closely during the critical period of dengue fever.
To treat Dengue, it is vital to continually maintain fluid intake and monitor your infant's hemoglobin levels to identify any risk of your child going into shocks.
Can Dengue Be Treated At Home?
Yes, it can be treated at home. But ONLY if the symptoms are not severe. Even then, you should give your infant plenty of fluids and nourishing food. However, getting professional medical help is the safest way to treat Dengue, especially for infants.
In case your child falls sick with Dengue, here are some tips to deal with the situation:
- Keep your baby comfortable with loose-fitting clothes.
- Monitor your infant’s body temperature and keep a close look out for blood in stools or bleeding gums. If you notice either symptom, you MUST consult a doctor immediately.
- Maintain body hydration by breastfeeding your infant or giving them juices, soups, and other healthy fluids.
Above all, it is important to be calm and composed rather than be tense about the situation. Sometimes, your baby may run a very high temperature or bleed from the nose. Such incidents can increase your anxiety levels. Remember that only a calm and happy parent can soothe a cranky baby with dengue fever. You can gently massage their limbs to ease their discomfort and rock them to sleep in your arms.
Have infants at home? Download the REAN HealthGuru app and gain access to a wealth of resources and support to deal with Dengue and other medical issues. Our app connects you with professionals to help you navigate such delicate situations.
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