Understand Dengue: Like small children, older people too are at a risk of getting dengue. Find out symptoms, treatment and preventive measures against dengue fever in senior citizens.
Some facts of dengue in elderly
- Dengue affects people of all age and sex. Older people are more likely to develop severe form of dengue fever like infants and young children.
- The risk of death in elderly is also higher as compared to any other age group except infants and young children.
- Presentation and symptoms of dengue fever can vary from mild undifferentiated febrile disease to the classic incapacitating dengue fever (high fever of abrupt onset, severe headache and bodyache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and bone or joint pains, nausea and vomiting, and rash).
Management of dengue in Elderly
Management of dengue in elderly is similar to that of an adult. Your doctor will treat you based on your symptoms and severity of illness.
Treatment for mild form of the disease includes:
- Bed rest.
- Drinking plenty of fluids like oral rehydration solution, fresh juice, soups, coconut water. This will help to prevent dehydration due to vomiting and high fever.
- Antipyretics (medication for fever): Acetaminophen helps to reduce pain and fever. Avoid aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. These drugs increase the risk of bleeding complications.
- Tepid sponging to reduce fever
Treatment for severe form of the disease includes:
- Admission in a hospital
- Oxygen (if you are in shock or are very ill)
- Medications to lower fever and to decrease the pain
- Blood pressure monitoring (if you develop DSS and DHF ---as this increases the risk of very low blood pressure).
- Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement to manage fluid loss, prevent dehydration and maintain blood pressure
- Blood transfusion to replace blood loss if required
- Platelet transfusion if the platelet count decreases
Seek medical attention immediately if you develop:
- Bleeding from nose or gums, or bleeding from any other site
- Red spots or purplish patches on the skin
- Blood in vomiting or black colored stools,
- Frequent vomiting, severe abdominal pain
- Difficulty in breathing, lethargy, drowsiness, confusion or seizures
- Pale, cold or clammy hands and feet
Personal preventive measures for elderly
- Wear protective clothing like long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Apply 10 to 30 percent concentration of DEET insect repellent on your exposed skin.
- Close the windows at dawn and dusk (active mosquito times) to prevent mosquitoes from entering your house.
- Mosquito that transmits dengue infection usually lives indoor and is found in dark, cool places like in closets, under beds, behind curtains, and in bathrooms. Use flying-insect spray to kill mosquitoes in these areas.
- Use flying-insect spray in sleeping area to kill mosquitoes.
- Sleep in a mosquito net, (preferably use one treated with insecticide).
Dengue fever is more severe in elderly. There is no vaccine or treatment for dengue. Take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and there by dengue infection.
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