Know the 3 Phases of Dengue Fever in Children

19 September 2022

Later these days, we often experienceu unpredictable weather conditions.

Later these days, we often experienceu unpredictable weather conditions. This is common occurrence that signs the change of seasons or the transition to rainy season. A number of health problems may rise related to the change of season, one of them is dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). It is quite a hard work for parents to stay alert and keep their children safe during this season.

There are 3 phases in DHF in children, which are: fever phase, critical phase, and recovery phase. When depicted as graph, the condition of the fever and the children’s health condition will resemble a horse's saddle. That is why it is sometimes called as ‘saddle period’. Let us know the saddle period:

1. Fever Phase (Febrile Phase)

Generally, dengue fever will start with a high fever of up to 40 degrees Celsius that may last for 2-7 days. In this phase, your child may experience body aches that may be felt in the muscles, bones and joints aches, throat, and head. In addition, red spots may appear on the skin during this phase. Usually, the platelet count will decrease rapidly to less than 100,000 per microliter of blood within a short period of time (2-3 days).

2. Critical Phase

The second phase is the most important period to watch out for. In this phase, body temperature can drop (below 38 degrees Celsius) so that we come to think that the children are recovering. In fact, this is the critical phase where bleeding and leakage of blood plasma can occur. Heart rate, blood pressure may fluctuate, and in severe cases, they drop to dangerously low levels that they may cause damage to vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. This is very dangerous because it is potentially life threatening. This phase occurs within 3-7 days of fever and will last for 24-48 hours.

Therefore, it is vital for you to monitor your children’s fluid intake closely to ensure just the right amount is given.

Signs that DHF has entered a critical phase are as follows:

• Stomach ache

• Vomiting constantly, even with just liquids

• Bleeding tendencies such as blood appearing in the vomit even if it's just streaks of blood, bleeding from the nose or gums

• Easy bruising

• Black, sticky stools (like tarts)

• Difficulty breathing

3. Recovery Phase

After passing the critical period comes the recovery phase which will occur within a period of 48-72 hours after the critical phase. During the recovery period for DHF, fluid that comes out of the blood vessels can re-enter the blood vessels.

For this reason, you must keep the fluids in your little one's body so that they are not excessive. The reason is, excessive fluid in the blood vessels may be fatal as they may cause pulmonary edema and heart failure.

How to handle DHF in Children?

There is no specific treatment for dengue. In the early days when symptoms start to appear, the child can still be treated at home. During a fever, the child can be given medicine containing paracetamol to relieve the fever and pain.

Avoid giving pain relievers with aspirin and ibuprofen content because they can affect the level of platelets in the blood and increase the risk of bleeding.

Apart from medication, these things can be done for treatment at home:

• Apply compresses to the child's forehead, armpits, chest, groin

• Ensure children get adequate rest

• Give your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, either in the form of food or drink

• Provide foods rich in nutrients to help strengthen a child's immunity when suffering from DHF so that they may recover faster

Please be alert on your child’s symptoms when you treat them at home. Your child may need to be taken to the hospital if they have symptoms of dehydration from vomiting too much or losing his appetite. At the hospital, he will get fluids through an IV.

You also need to still be alert when your child’s fever is lowering, and they seem to have recovered. Keep an eye on the child’s condition at all times. Immediately take the child to the ER if he experiences any of the symptoms of severe DHF that have been described previously.


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