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Little ones tend to fall ill frequently, especially in the changing season. This is because their immune system is still developing. But while regular flu and fever are relatively easy to treat, mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria require a more careful approach. Timely intervention is necessary to prevent them from becoming complicated and deadly.
In recent years, dengue and malaria have become endemic in about 100 countries, including India. In fact, India’s 2015 dengue outbreak was the worst in the last 20 years. With the recent floods, India has been declared at increased risk for mosquito-borne viruses by Red Cross, and it is important to be ready for any situation where your little one could be infected. Malaria and dengue are the most common, yet very dangerous, diseases that your child is at risk for. Understanding what to watch out for and how to deal with these diseases can equip you to keep your little one safe.
While malaria can be treated medically, there is no treatment available for dengue. The only way to tackle dengue is by tackling its symptoms. Malaria too needs timely treatment to ensure that the parasites are cleared from the body before the condition worsens. Therefore, it is very important to understand the symptoms of both these diseases for timely intervention and to prevent fatalities.
Symptoms of Malaria
Some of the symptoms of malaria include:
- Profuse sweating
- High fever
- Moderate to severe chills
- Muscle pain
- Blood in stools
In severe cases, the patient can also show symptoms like anaemia, convulsions and go into a coma as well.
Symptoms of Dengue
The symptoms of dengue, also known as breakbone fever, are:
- Sudden onset of fever
- Body aches
- Severe headaches
- Pain behind the eyes
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin rash similar to measles
- Low blood pressure
If your little one shows any of these symptoms, some of which are easy to confuse with the symptoms of regular flu, contact the doctor immediately as timely detection is key. The severity level of these diseases can increase in a matter of hours.
Prevention of Dengue and Malaria
The effects of dengue and malaria can be very distressing and leave your child feeling ill and listless. The best protection you can give your child is prevention! Here are a number of simple ways to follow to keep these diseases at bay:
1. Make Your Little One Wear Clothes With Maximum Coverage
Avoid any skin exposure by making your child wear long-sleeved tops and shirts, and full-length pants. This is even more important if your child seems to be a mosquito-magnet.
2. Use Mosquito Repellent Sprays and Roll-Ons
It is not adequate to use a vaporiser at night to repel mosquitoes. In fact, the dengue-causing mosquito is more active during the day time. Children can also get bitten when they are outside the house. It is recommended to use a good mosquito repellent like Goodknight Fabric Roll-On. This roll-on contains natural oils and is totally safe for children. Dab 4 dots of this roll-on onto your child’s clothes every time they venture outdoors to protect them from mosquitoes for up to 8 hours.
3. Spray Mosquito Repellent Essential Oils Around the House
Certain oils like geranium, cedar, lemongrass, soy or citronella are excellent to repel mosquitoes. Keep away fruity and sweet fragrances as they tend to attract mosquitoes.
4. Drain Collected Water Regularly
Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and it is important to clear any stagnant water from empty containers like flower pots and old tyres regularly to prevent breeding.
Detection & Treatment
In case your child starts showing the symptoms of dengue or malaria, don’t delay in visiting the doctor. Malaria and dengue are diseases that can be detected via blood tests and a physical examination.
Watch: Paediatrician Explains How to Detect Dengue in Children
Home Remedies for Malaria
If your little one has been diagnosed with malaria, strictly adhere to the doctor’s recommendation for medication. In addition to the prescription, you can also opt for some natural home remedies to speed up your child’s recovery.
*The following home remedies are completely natural and safe to use for children. It is still recommended to consult your paediatrician before administering any home remedies to your child.
Here are some home remedies for malaria to help relieve your child’s symptoms and boost recovery.
Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is an excellent remedy to administer for malaria.
How-to: Boil small slices of ginger with 3 teaspoons of raisins in a cup of water till it reduces to half of the amount. Let it cool and feed this decoction to your child.
2. Citrus Fruits and Juices
Citrus fruits are excellent sources of Vitamin C which is important to boost immunity. This is beneficial in treating malaria.
How-to: A few drops of lime in a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice should be fed to your little one every day. Additionally, fresh oranges or orange juice should be fed daily.
3. Fever Nut
Fever nut (Kantakareja) is an age-old remedy that helps bring down the body temperature and break the fever, which is the first step to recovery of malaria.
How-to: Take six grams of the seeds with a glass of water and feed it 4 hours before the attack of the fever. One glass should be taken after one hour of the bite.
4. Holy Basil
Holy basil helps bring down the fever and protect the blood cells. It also has anti-bacterial properties which make it extremely effective against malaria.
How-to: Boil leaves of holy basil with black pepper powder or powdered cardamom in half a litre of water. Feed this concoction to your child.
Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties help provide relief from symptoms of malaria-like nausea, loss of appetite, indigestion and cramps.
How-to: Boil one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon in a glass of water with a pinch of pepper powder and a teaspoon of honey. Feed it to your child every day.
Home Remedies for Dengue
Here are some home remedies for dengue that can soothe your child’s symptoms. They can also speed up recovery time.
Neem leaves help increase the blood platelet count and white blood cell count in the body. Neem in itself helps soothe the skin rashes that accompany dengue.
How-to: Steep neem leaves and feed your child the brew of these leaves. Additionally, spraying neem fragrance around the house effectively repels mosquitoes as well.
Tip: You can use neem leaf extracts together with papaya leaf extracts to make this remedy even more effective. Some moms also vouch for neem oil (extracted from the fruits and flowers). You can apply it on a damp warm cloth and keep on your child’s forehead.
2. Papaya Leaves
Papaya leaves help increase the blood platelet count and combat the symptoms of dengue.
How-to: Crush papaya leaves and strain them with a cloth to get juice which can be consumed directly.
Turmeric is known to boost metabolism and is extremely helpful in making the recovery process faster.
How-to: The classic turmeric milk is the way to go in dengue as well.
4. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds help reduce fever and have a soothing effect on pain. They will help your little one sleep better too.
How-to: Soak the leaves in water and then serve the water to your child for relief.
As mentioned earlier, basil is extremely good for boosting immunity and is recommended in Ayurveda for treatment for dengue.
How-to: Make your little one chew on basil leaves. Also, spray basil essential oil around the house for repelling mosquitoes.
It is important to reiterate that in case your baby has symptoms for these diseases, you must consult the paediatrician and follow as advised and along with that, these above-mentioned options can also be tried.
We hope these tips and remedies will help you fight off the risk of dengue and malaria for your children. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about treating mosquito-borne diseases in kids.