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10 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Dengue Fever

10 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Dengue Fever


Dengue fever, often referred to as the “breakbone fever,” is a viral illness caused by the dengue virus and transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. This potentially life-threatening disease is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Understanding the warning signs and symptoms of dengue fever is crucial for early detection and timely medical intervention.

What it is:

Dengue fever is a viral illness caused by the dengue virus, which belongs to the Flavivirus family. There are four distinct serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4) of the dengue virus, all of which can cause the disease. It is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Aedes mosquitoes, mainly Aedes aegypti.

How it works:

When an infected mosquito bites a human, it injects the dengue virus into the bloodstream. The virus then multiplies in various tissues, including lymph nodes and the liver, before entering the bloodstream, leading to viremia. Viremia can cause a wide range of symptoms, which we’ll explore in the next section.


Dengue fever can manifest with a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. The following are the common warning signs and symptoms of dengue fever:

  1. Sudden High Fever: Dengue often begins with a sudden and high fever that can last from 2 to 7 days.

  2. Severe Headaches: Intense headaches, often described as a pounding sensation, are a hallmark of dengue fever.

  3. Joint and Muscle Pain: Dengue is notorious for causing severe joint and muscle pain, earning it the nickname “breakbone fever.”

  4. Fatigue and Weakness: Patients with dengue frequently experience extreme fatigue and weakness.

  5. Pain Behind the Eyes: Dengue fever can cause severe pain behind the eyes, known as retro-orbital pain.

  6. Skin Rash: A rash may develop, typically appearing a few days after the onset of fever. It can be widespread and sometimes itchy.

  7. Bleeding: In severe cases, dengue can lead to bleeding manifestations, such as nosebleeds, gum bleeding, or easy bruising.

  8. Nausea and Vomiting: Many individuals with dengue experience nausea and may vomit.

  9. Abdominal Pain: Pain in the abdomen, often mistaken for appendicitis, can occur in some cases.

  10. Difficulty Breathing: Severe dengue (known as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome) can lead to breathing difficulties and a drop in blood pressure, which can be life-threatening.

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The primary cause of dengue fever is the infection with the dengue virus. This virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, with Aedes aegypti being the most common vector. Dengue is not directly transmitted from person to person but can be indirectly spread through the bite of mosquitoes that have previously bitten an infected individual.


Diagnosing dengue fever involves a combination of clinical evaluation and laboratory tests. Doctors will consider the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. Laboratory tests, such as blood tests to detect the presence of the dengue virus or antibodies, are often used to confirm the diagnosis.

Table: Dengue Fever Diagnosis
Diagnostic TestPurposeExplanation
Polymerase Chain ReactionDetect viral RNA in blood samplesConfirms the presence of the dengue virus.
IgM and IgG Antibody TestsDetect antibodies produced during infectionIgM antibodies indicate recent infection.
Complete Blood CountMonitor platelet count and white blood cellsLow platelets can indicate severe dengue.
Serum Electrolyte LevelsEvaluate electrolyte imbalancesHelps manage complications like dehydration

There is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue fever, and management mainly focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing complications. The following steps are typically taken for dengue fever treatment:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Maintaining proper hydration is crucial. Drinking plenty of fluids helps prevent dehydration, which can be a serious complication.

  2. Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen can help reduce fever and alleviate pain. Avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.

  3. Rest: Getting plenty of rest is essential for a swift recovery.

  4. Medical Monitoring: Severe cases of dengue may require hospitalization for close monitoring and supportive care, such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions.

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Preventing dengue fever primarily involves reducing exposure to Aedes mosquitoes and minimizing mosquito breeding sites. Here are some effective prevention measures:

  1. Mosquito Control: Use mosquito nets, screens, or repellents to avoid mosquito bites. Wear long-sleeved clothing and use mosquito nets when sleeping in affected areas.

  2. Eliminate Breeding Sites: Mosquitoes that transmit dengue breed in standing water. Regularly empty containers, clean gutters, and dispose of old tires or containers that can collect rainwater.

  3. Community Efforts: Community-wide mosquito control programs, such as insecticide spraying and larval control, can help reduce mosquito populations.

  4. Travel Precautions: If traveling to dengue-endemic areas, take extra precautions, such as staying in air-conditioned accommodations and using insect repellent.

  5. Vaccine (where available): In some regions, a dengue vaccine is available. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if the vaccine is recommended for your travel destination.


Dengue fever is a potentially severe viral illness transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Early detection of the warning signs and symptoms is essential for prompt medical intervention. Remember that dengue is preventable, and taking steps to reduce mosquito exposure can significantly lower the risk of infection.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

No, dengue fever is not directly contagious from person to person. It is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Yes, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times, as there are four different serotypes of the virus.

Severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, is a more serious form of the disease characterized by severe bleeding and organ damage.

Use mosquito repellent, wear long-sleeved clothing, and stay in air-conditioned accommodations if possible. Also, consider getting the dengue vaccine if available.

While there are no natural remedies that can cure dengue, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest are essential for recovery.

The mortality rate varies depending on the severity of the disease and the availability of medical care. With proper treatment, the mortality rate is relatively low.

Yes, dengue can be diagnosed through blood tests that detect the presence of the virus or antibodies.

Eliminate standing water in containers, clean gutters regularly, and ensure that water does not accumulate in tires, flowerpots, or other objects.

In some regions, a dengue vaccine is available, but its availability may vary. Consult with a healthcare professional for vaccination recommendations.