Dengue patients often ask whether they need to take blood. In most cases, the answer is simply no.
If the haemoglobin level is good, and there is no bleeding, they need not take blood. In case of excessive bleeding, the doctor may advise blood injection. But blood is for the loss of blood, not for dengue treatment.
Many also panic when their platelet level falls. It is usual that the platelet level of dengue patients goes down within four to five days of fever. It, however, starts to go up again naturally within the next six days. So most patients do not require platelet injections. In rare cases, it becomes necessary when the platelet level drops to 20,000-30,000 counts.
As such, people should not get the notion that blood and platelets are a must in dengue treatment.
In 90% of cases, dengue patients can recover at home. They should not take painkillers except paracetamol, as many painkillers increase the risk of bleeding. Patients should drink a lot of water, sherbet, glucose, and green coconut water. When fever increases, the body can be sponged.
Keeping in touch with the doctor is necessary, particularly for checking platelet levels every three to four days, as a decreased level of platelet increases risks.
It is safe to be admitted to the hospital if platelet counts fall below one lakh. Besides, a fall in blood pressure, inability to eat and vomiting should be considered seriously as these are signs of going into shock.
Usually, platelets decrease after four to five days of fever, but there are some changes in dengue symptoms now. In some cases, one sees that platelets decrease within two days. Many people do not even have a high fever.
Since the dengue outbreak is going on, if one has fever, headache and body pain, one should get a dengue test. Complications are less if dengue is diagnosed early. Patients who are treated at home usually recover in seven to ten days.
People over 60 years of age, who already suffer from various comorbidities, including kidney and heart disease, should go to the hospital if they are dengue positive. Their risk is high because many heart patients take blood thinners, aspirin which increases the risk of bleeding during dengue.
Dengue is a virus, hence there is no need for antibiotics. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics if there is a secondary infection.
Children are at greater risk because their immune system is weak. Children sleep during the day, and Aedes mosquitoes also bite in daytime. Therefore, using mosquito nets is a must for them. It is better to wear full pants, and full-sleeve clothes for children, especially during the dengue season. Dengue is not a contagious disease and mothers with dengue can breastfeed their children.
Now Covid patients are also increasing in number. Another is seasonal fever. It is possible to get infected by Covid and dengue at a time. If you have a fever, you should do both dengue and Covid tests. Some drugs are given in Covid treatment which cannot be given in dengue.
An effective dengue vaccine is yet to be discovered. There are four serotypes of dengue - Dengue 1, 2, 3, 4. People once infected with one serotype can get infected again by other serotypes. There is still no vaccine that works against all four serotypes.
Dengue can be kept under control if the administration and people work together. When the dengue season is there, the mosquito-killing spree begins. But even in winter, we find some dengue patients. Therefore, coordinated mosquito control initiatives should be taken throughout the year.
Dr ABM Abdullah is an emeritus professor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and a personal physician of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The article has been written by our reporter Tawsia Tajmim after an exclusive interview with the eminent physician on Thursday.