How do I Treat Dengue Fever?

Nat Robinson

Dengue fever is a type of disease caused by viruses generally carried by specific mosquitoes. Individuals with this virus-based disease will typically run a very high temperature and can become fervently ill. There is not a definitive treatment for this illness, although the symptoms may dwindle with rest. In addition, an acetaminophen may be used to lower the extremely high fever often caused by this disease. Dengue fever treatment may also include increasing individual fluid intake and hospitalization if the person is severely sick.

Mosquito about to bite.
Mosquito about to bite.

Generally, dengue fever is caused by four related but different dengue viruses. Each virus is carried by a specific kind of mosquito. Typically, it is an Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the disease. In general, an individual can develop this disease if he or she is bitten by a mosquito carrying this type of virus. As it is more than one type of virus that can lead to this illness, it is possible to become infected more than once by the same or a different virus.

Dengue fever often causes a high fever.
Dengue fever often causes a high fever.

Fever is the main symptom of dengue fever. In many cases, the body temperature will be very high, often reaching up to 105 degrees F (40.56 degrees C). Many people may also have extreme body aches, rashes and vomiting. Sometimes, a severe form of this disease known as dengue hemorrhagic fever can develop. When this happens, more serious symptoms such as bleeding underneath the skin, nose bleeds, blood vessel damage, bleeding from the mouth may occur.

Acetaminophen is often used to lower the body temperature of someone with dengue fever.
Acetaminophen is often used to lower the body temperature of someone with dengue fever.

Unfortunately, there is no main course of treatment for dengue fever. Rest is generally always recommended. Symptoms of this illness may become quite overwhelming. For this reason, the more the ill person rests, the easier it may be to combat the symptoms.

As this illness can cause an extremely high body temperature, an acetaminophen may be taken as treatment. The acetaminophen may greatly lower the body temperature. It will generally take more than one dosage to see temperature changes. Commonly, doctors recommend taking acetaminophen instead of aspirin or a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, because this can make some symptoms worse. For example, if one of the individual's symptoms is bleeding, these medications could make this symptom worse.

Treatment may also include increasing the individual's daily intake of fluids. If vomiting is one of the person's most profound symptoms, there is a chance that he or she may become dehydrated. For this reason, drinking a good deal of fluids can greatly decrease the likeliness of this happening. In addition, the fluids may also help reduce the extremely high fever.

Hospitalization may also be dengue fever treatment. This may be necessary if the symptoms become so severe that they are life threatening. One example of this would be profuse bleeding. In this event, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Additionally, an individual who becomes extremely dehydrated due to excessive or repeated vomiting may be given intravenous fluids to treat this particular symptom.

Dengue fever may cause excessive vomiting, leading to dehydration.
Dengue fever may cause excessive vomiting, leading to dehydration.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- I was going to say the same thing. The only 'treatment' for dengue seems to be prevention. Mosquito nets are a great and cheap way to avoid dengue among other mosquito caused diseases. Those visiting tropical areas should take extra precaution because I believe that people in those areas have a little more immunity to it than we from colder regions of the world.

And anyone returning from foreign travel with flu symptoms must go to the doctor immediately. With viral diseases, early diagnosis and hospital treatment can prevent complications and death. Death is rare for dengue fever but complications do occur if diagnosis and treatment is delayed.


@SarahGen-- You make a great point but dengue fever is really nothing like swine or avian flu. There are currently no antiviral medications that can be used to treat dengue fever. Doctors have been studying possible medications and even vaccinations for some time now with no luck.

It is a rare illness in the developed world but in some countries, the incidence rates are high as you said. Especially tropical, hot areas such as Southeast Asia have high incidence rates. I hope that vaccination and medication will be developed for it but as of 2014, these do not exist.


Ever source I have looked at says that there is no treatment for dengue fever, aside from fever reducers, pain relievers, taking liquids and resting. I find this hard to believe though because dengue fever is not that rare and it's not usually a mild fever. It has many side effects and complications are likely.

I know that with many times of serious flue, such as swine flu or avian flu, doctors can and do prescribe antiviral medications. Considering that dengue fever is a viral illness, why can't antivirals be used for it?

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