Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am simply a traveller who has been unfortunate enough to get dengue fever recently and wishes to share her experience. Please consult a medical professional if you are concerned you have contracted dengue fever.
For those of you who follow me on YouTube, you will already know that I was unfortunate enough to contract dengue fever whilst we were staying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What was even worse was that I started developing symptoms on my way to Singapore where I had a planned a 3 day trip with Scott. Brilliant timing has always been my strong point!
So I thought I would share my dengue fever story, what it is, what symptoms you need to look out for and what to do if you think you have contracted dengue fever!
What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a viral infection spread through one specific type of mosquito and is prominent in south east Asia, Africa as well as central and south America.
There are 4 strains of the virus and there are no current vaccinations for prevention. However there are currently clinical trials being conducted in south east Asia for a new vaccine.
How and when can you catch dengue fever?
The mosquito which carries dengue is actually a day time bitter so make sure you cover up and use a good insect repellent. The incubation period varies online between 4-10 days. This means it will take this long between an infected mosquito to bite you and for you to develop symptoms.
Symptoms of Dengue fever
Sudden onset of one or more of the following lasting between 3-7 days:
- Severe headache
- Severe muscle aches
- Pain behind the eyes
- Rash after 5th day of symptoms
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Mild bleeding (gums and nose)
Mild dengue fever is normally mistaken for the flu but imagine all the symptoms of the flu and quadruple the pain and discomfort. That’s what dengue fever feels like! Also, when they say sudden onset, they mean it. I developed muscle aches and a headache around 7am (which came out of nowhere as before that I was feeling 100%) and by 11am the same day I was shaking and had spiked a massive fever.
What should you do if you present with any of these symptoms?
Contact a doctor immediately who will run a blood test to confirm dengue fever as well as check your platelet count. Dengue fever suppresses your bone marrow and destroys your WBC and platelets. Internal bleeding along with a dangerously low platelet counts is one of the biggest complications you can face with dengue fever.
The doctor at the clinic or hospital may put you on IV fluids and send you home with paracetamol to keep your fever down.
Bed rest and high fluid intake is crucial and the only thing you can do. However, water may not be enough. I couldn’t physically drink enough and my electrolyte levels and minerals all got burnt out by my fever in a matter of a few days.
From there I drank around 6 litres of 100 plus, 3 fresh coconuts and 3 bottles of papaya leaf extract in one day to get my levels back up! The papaya leaf extract has been shown to increase platelet levels in the blood. My levels went from 85,000 one day to 126,000 24 hours later after drinking three bottles. You can buy papaya leaf extract from most pharmacies in Malaysia.
Your platelets will continue to drop over the coming week. The doctor requested that I went in every single day for a blood test to check until he was happy that they were going up enough.
The danger zone is when your fever goes down and you start feeling worse! If this happens get to a hospital immediately!
How to reduce the risk of getting dengue fever
Cover up (wear breathable clothing that covers your arms and legs) and wear a high DEET insect repellent (basically you need to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitos!)
I was told by my doctor along with fellow travellers who too had suffered with dengue fever that I could feel fatigued and lack energy for about a month! Luckily I only experienced extended energy loss for a few days following my symptoms.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 4 strains of dengue fever. If you are unlucky enough to contract dengue a second or third time, you may be at higher risk for complications.
So, there you have it. Prevention is your best friend however mosquitos are tough little buggers so it may not even be possible to prevent dengue fever 100%! Try to cover up, wear a good bug spray and if you do develop any symptoms contact a doctor, drink A LOT of water, take paracetamol to bring down your fever and get a lot of bed rest!
Have you ever caught dengue fever? Share your story down below in the comment section!