How Can I Tell If My Child Has Dengue? We Asked a Pediatrician!

Dengue used to be more rampant during the rainy season, particularly, between June to October. Nowadays, however, dengue can occur all-year round, especially in a warm country like ours. We’ve been familiar with dengue for many years, but it’s always good to refresh and update our knowledge when it comes to illnesses. When does a fever already become a tell-tale sign of dengue? How will you know when to bring your kids to the hospital? Dr. Tere Ribano helps us out by telling us what we need to understand about dengue.

What are the signs that indicate a child’s illness could be dengue?
According to Dra. Tere, the signs and symptoms of dengue can affect children of all ages. The most common symptoms at the onset of the illness are fever, flushed skin, body malaise (feeling tired), irritability, incessant crying, and decreased appetite. Some older children might also complain of headaches, eye pain, and joint pain.

Dra. Tere recommends, “Make sure you get the kids vaccinated on time. Yes, dengue may not be prevented completely through vaccination, but ensuring your child is protected against other vaccine-preventable diseases will help your healthcare provider rule out other illnesses and focus on management for dengue right away.”

When should a Pediatrician be consulted?
If you notice your baby is feeling unwell, be on the lookout for the symptoms that Dra. Tere mentioned above. When you notice a combination of fever, irritability, and if your child is not nursing or feeding well, get in touch with your pediatrician to find out what steps you should take to relieve their symptoms.  Dra. Tere also says that a pediatrician should be consulted when the child experiences bleeding (that does not resolve within 15 minutes), and severe pain (e.g. abdominal pain, headaches).

"For me, if my patient is not active and the fever keeps coming back, I'd consider running some tests. Particularly, if my patient is less than a year old." Dr. Tere Ribano  

What is your advice for parents if their child is diagnosed with dengue?
We know that dengue is not to be taken lightly, and if it’s your first time encountering it, it’s hard not worry. But don’t panic, Moms and Dads. Dra. Tere reminds parents that the best thing you can do for your child is to calmly make plans with your pediatrician and the rest of your household on how to proceed with treatment. The good news is that mild dengue can be treated at home as long as diagnostic tests are all clear and do not show any cause for concern.

"Patience is key especially when dealing with a child that's not very cooperative in drinking fluids, like oral rehydration salts, and fever measures." Dr. Tere Ribano 

What are some of the most effective dengue prevention methods at home?
Take note of these pro-tips from Dra. Tere to help make your home mosquito and dengue-free:

1. Clean and empty areas where stagnant water can collect (pots, water dispenser, back and beneath of refrigerator) 2. Dark areas/corners should be cleared (mosquitoes love the dark), and if possible, have light fixtures added. 3. Plants like citronella, lemongrass, basil, and lavender help repel mosquitoes 4. Don't dress the kids in dark-colored clothing when outdoors as this attracts mosquitoes 5. Re-apply non-DEET mosquito sprays or patches every two to three hours 6. Go easy on the sweet smelling colognes because these can attract mosquitoes

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