What are the symptoms of Dengue?

Updated at: Jan 17, 2013
What are the symptoms of Dengue?

The signs and symptoms of dengue are sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, and joint and muscle pain. Get in-depth knowledge of dengue symptoms.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Apr 04, 2011

symptoms of Dengue

The characteristic symptom of dengue is sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, and joint and muscle pain. Dengue infection can vary in severity from mild acute febrile illness to a fatal infection. In most people the symptoms of dengue fever start within 4 to 7 of bite of an infected mosquito.


Symptoms of uncomplicated (classic) dengue fever: The symptoms of dengue fever or uncomplicated (classic) dengue infection are

  • Abrupt onset of high fever which may be up to 105ºF
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Pain behind the eye (Retro-orbital pain). The pain may worsen with eye movements
  • Rash ---measles-like rash may start over torso and extend to upper and lower limbs

In most people the rash appears 3 to 4 days after the fever on the torso. It may spread from the torso to the arms, legs, and face. The rash usually resolves after 1 to 2 days. The rash can again appear after a few days. In some people muscle and joint pains (myalgias and arthralgias) can be very severe. Hence it is also called break-bone fever or bonecrusher disease.


The disease is usually mild and self limiting illness in most people. But sometimes dengue fever can progress to DHF or DSS.


Symptoms of Dengue Shock Syndrome and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever: All the symptoms of classic dengue are seen in a patient with dengue hemorrhagic fever. Besides the above symptoms a person with DHF has

  • Leakage of fluid from blood vessels because of damage to blood vessels. This leads to hemoconcentration or increased hematocrit
  • Bleeding from the nose, gums, mouth or in the skin (which leads to purplish bruises). This occurs due to decrease in the number of platelets (the cell that help your blood clot)

Dengue shock syndrome (DSS) is the most severe form of dengue illness. Patients with DSS have all the symptoms of DF and dengue hemorrhagic fever, plus

  • Leaking of fluid outside the blood vessels
  • Severe bleeding
  • Shock (very low blood pressure)

Symptoms of DHF and DSS include:

  • Symptoms similar to dengue fever
  • Severe and continuous stomach pain
  • Pale, cold or clammy skin
  • Bleeding from nose or gums, or bleeding from any other site
  • Red spots or purplish patches on the skin
  • Frequent vomiting, blood in vomiting or black colored stools,
  • Sleepiness, lethargy and restlessness
  • Difficulty in breathing,
  • Confusion or seizures

DHF and DSS can be fatal, especially in children and young adults. DHF and DSS are usually observed in children or at times in adults experiencing their second dengue infection.


Several other infections have symptoms similar to dengue infection. It is important and advisable to see your doctor to diagnose the cause of your symptoms.


Read more articles on Dengue Symptoms


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