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Come rainy season and humid climate, and mosquitoes up their ante, becoming highly active, thus giving rise to many mosquito-borne diseases. Dengue is a prominent illness that can cause several complications, making it especially risky if you are pregnant.
What Is Dengue?
Dengue is an illness that is passed on by mosquitoes. If left untreated, it can metamorphose into a severe and deadly infection known as dengue haemorrhagic fever. Dengue is generally found in the urban areas of tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which typically breed in stagnant water, are carriers of the dengue virus and they spread it through their bites. These mosquitoes have a life span of 40 days and carry the virus through this entire period. The rainy season is their favourite breeding season and one needs to be careful, especially during the months after the monsoon. These dengue-carrying mosquitoes are at the peak of their activity during early mornings and late afternoons.
Causes of Dengue
The following are the most common causes of dengue
- Dengue carrier mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti that are mostly found in tropical regions and warm and humid climates are the primary cause of dengue.
- Since these mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, open drains, pots, flower vases and stored water can become potential hotspots for dengue-carriers.
- The dengue virus consists of four strains, which means that you can be susceptible to the remaining three even if you have been infected once.
- Early mornings and late afternoons are when the dengue mosquito is most likely to bite.
Symptoms of Dengue
The following are the symptoms of dengue, which generally show up four to seven days after you have been infected by the dengue-carrying mosquito.
Dengue is identified with high fever which is accompanied by a couple of symptoms like headache, joint or muscle pain, vomiting, nausea, rash over the body, swelling of glands or pain behind eyes.
Severe dengue can show the following symptoms:
- Bleeding from nose or gums
- Extreme abdominal pain
- Skin bruising
- Continuous vomiting
- Difficulty in breathing
- Rapid breaths
What Are the Risks of Dengue Fever During Pregnancy?
There are many risk factors that are associated with dengue and pregnancy when both happen simultaneously as your growing baby could be affected in the following ways:
- Low weight at birth
- Miscarriage if dengue strikes in the early stages of pregnancy
- A primary effect of dengue in pregnancy is pre-term birth which does not allow your baby to grow fully
- A severe complication of dengue is Dengue haemorrhagic fever and it can be fatal for the foetus
Will Dengue Affect Your Baby?
Dengue does not lead to any kind of physical deformity nor does it pass on to the baby. However, it is best to take enough precautions so that the infection does not spread to the baby after the delivery. Your doctor will check your baby for a low platelet count, fever and rashes over the body if you have contracted dengue during pregnancy.
How to Treat Dengue While Pregnant?
The importance of treating dengue in pregnancy management is critical and is no different from general cases of dengue. Like others, it will include a blood test to check if you are infected with the dengue virus and to understand its severity. Here are a few pointers to its treatment during pregnancy:
- You are advised to drink a lot of fluids including water and fresh juices since it is important to maintain the embryonic fluid level, and being hydrated is the key to it.
- You will be administered pain killers and antibiotics to keep joint pains and aches in control.
- Over-the-counter medicines are a complete no-no during pregnancy since they are not safe.
- Your blood pressure and platelet count will be checked on a regular basis.
- In case of severe dengue, platelet infusion may be advised.
- You will also be administered intravenous fluid and oxygen.
- Blood transfusion could be needed in case there is excessive bleeding.
Is Dengue Treatment Safe for Pregnant Women?
The most common form of treatment for dengue when you are pregnant is to ease its symptoms since there are no specific vaccines or antivirus that have been made for dengue. However, the safety of the mother and baby is of paramount importance; hence only medicines like paracetamol, which are free of side-effects will be prescribed. Also, your doctor will ask you to drink a lot of fluids and take rest.
In case of severe dengue, you will be treated at a hospital where your condition can be continuously monitored and steps can be taken to stabilize your blood pressure and minimize any chances of dehydration. If your platelet count is low then you will need a blood transfusion to achieve the minimum level.
What Are the Preventive Measures of Dengue Infection?
It is very important for you to protect yourself from contracting dengue during pregnancy to avoid any complications in the future. You are also responsible for your baby’s health and will have to keep it safe from the dengue virus. The following precautions will help you to do so:
- Mosquitoes love warm environs so choose a cool room to rest in during the day time.
- Install mosquito nets wherever possible and use safe mosquito sprays or repellents to keep the mosquitoes away.
- Remove any stagnant water in vases or air-conditioner outlets around the house to prevent breeding.
- Wearing full-sleeved and light coloured clothes can help in warding off mosquito bites.
- Get your blood checked on a regular basis and seek medical advice when you are in doubt.
- Cover the doors and windows with a fine mesh to prevent the mosquitoes from entering your home.
- While applying mosquito repellents, it is better to apply the repellent frequently and repeatedly rather than applying a larger quantity in one go, as this provides better protection.
As a mother-to-be, you will need to be extra careful during pregnancy and ensure that you are safe from illnesses like dengue. Preventing dengue infection, taking timely measures and seeking prompt medical advice is the key to keeping yourself and the baby safe from dengue.