Have you heard about this severe type of dengue fever?

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Learn about dengue hemorrhagic fever, and how you can protect your children against this potentially fatal disease.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a severe type or complication of dengue fever that can be fatal if undetected early.

Studies have shown that there are 100 million new cases around the world every year, and this makes it worrying especially for families living in tropical countries such as Singapore.

It is also known as the Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF), Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) or Southeast Asian Hemorrhagic Fever in other parts of Asia.

Signs and Symptoms of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

DHF has the same symptoms with dengue fever early on, but DHF has more serious complications.

Look out for these complications in your child:

  • Restlessness, irritability and sweatiness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Bleeding
    • Small spots of blood on the skin and large areas of blood under the skin
    • Easy bruising
    • Spitting up blood
    • Presence of blood in the stool
    • Bleeding gums
    • Nose bleeds
  • Black stool
  • Symptoms of shock which is characterized by: cold, clammy arms and legs, sweating, weak pulse, blue-tinged lips. Note: If these are present in your child, seek medical help immediately.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever

The severity and complications of dengue hemorrhagic fever can lead to hospitalisation to keep the condition in check.

Treatment options for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

Because dengue hemorrhagic fever it is a complication of dengue fever, it has no treatments. There is no alternative left but to let it run its course. However, DHF symptoms can be treated to ease pain and discomfort and prevent death by using or doing the following:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Monitoring of blood pressure
  • Transfusion of blood or platelets to combat bleeding
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids to correct electrolyte imbalances and rehydrate
  • Oxygen therapy to increase low blood oxygen
  • Intensive care support, if needed

Prognosis of dengue hemorrhagic fever

If dengue hemorrhagic fever is caught on early on, the child is expected to make a full recovery. It becomes more difficult to recover from DHF when a child is headed towards shock. This is why it is crucial to detect DHF immediately.

Complications of dengue hemorrhagic fever

  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to other organs
  • Shock
Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Bleeding warrants red flags in the presence of dengue hemorrhagic fever. If your child is bleeding for no reason, or the bleeding refuses to stop, seek medical help immediately.

Ways to prevent and control bleeding

Due to the weak body during this period, it is imperative to keep your child safe to prevent bleeding and avoid falls or injuries.

  • Avoid brushing teeth if your child has low platelet counts as it may lead to gum bleeding
  • Stop them from digging their noses or blowing them too hard to avoid unnecessary stress to the blood vessels
  • Keep them from jumping around, strenuous exercise or any sports to avoid accidents

Should bleeding occur, parents should try to stop the bleeding by applying simple first aid: checking the condition of the wound site (if there is any debris etc.), cleaning it and applying pressure. Depending on the seriousness of the wound, you may need to send your child to the A&E for checks, especially if the bleeding does not stop.

Fever relief options

Seek medical advice before feeding your child any fever relief as certain medications may intervene with dengue hemorrhagic fever.

  • Painkillers such as paracetamol to relief pain and fever
  • Medications to control nausea and vomiting

When should your child return to the hospital

If your child was hospitalised for dengue hemorrhagic fever, and has been allowed to go home, ensure that a caregiver is monitoring his condition.

Look out for these symptoms, and should they appear, have your child sent to the nearest hospital immediately:

  • Blood platelet count <80,000
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums without any injury
  • Feeling unwell, signs of lethargy,  drowsiness or breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting, not eating or drinking well
  • Severe abdominal pain and giddiness

Your child may need to be hospitalised should the above be observed.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Do the 5-step mozzie wipeout to keep dengue hemorrhagic fever away from your children and loved ones. Image credit: Dengue.gov.sg

Ways to prevent dengue hemorrhagic fever

Singapore, being a tropical country, is home to the Aedes mosquito, allowing it to breed and thrive rampantly.

Local authorities in Singapore take dengue hemorrhagic fever very seriously and have launched a nationwide campaign, “Do the Mozzie Wipeout” to garner everyone’s help in stamping out dengue fever.

Stagnant water attracts these mosquitoes to lay eggs and acts as perfect breeding grounds for them. At home, do ensure such checks are done at least once a week to rule out the possibility of turning your home into a potential breeding space.

  • Change water in vases/ bowls / containers that are filled with water (e.g. pet dish bowls) on alternate days
  • Check and remove water from flowerpot plates on alternate days
  • Turn over all water storage containers within the home and outside of your home e.g. your plants outside the home
  • Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use to avoid rainwater collection
  • Cover rarely used gully traps to keep water out
  • Use sand granular insecticide in roof gutters or hard to reach places at least once a month
  • Close toilet bowls and floor traps when away from home for several days
  • Equip floor traps with anti-mosquito valves

Together, we can help to prevent the spread of dengue hemorrhagic fever within the country, and keep our children and loved ones safe.

It is upsetting to go be plagued by dengue hemorrhagic fever. Have you done your part to help curb the spread of dengue hemorrhagic fever in Singapore?