Here’s why you shouldn’t take painkillers when suffering from dengue

by Aditya Kumar

Dengue Outbreak in India: Why Taking Painkillers Can Be Dangerous

Dengue fever has become a major concern in India, with cases and deaths related to this mosquito-borne disease being reported across the country. As the number of dengue cases continues to rise, it is crucial to understand the proper management of this illness and avoid practices that can worsen the situation.

Last week, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya conducted a high-level meeting to review the dengue situation in India and assess the preparedness of the public health system to prevent and control the surge. This demonstrates the importance of addressing the issue promptly and effectively.

Dengue fever is a viral illness that is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. It is characterized by symptoms such as high fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache, and rash. The intense pain experienced during dengue fever often leads people to seek relief through painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin. However, taking these medications without proper guidance can have fatal consequences.

Dr. Rakesh Gupta, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, explains that the immediate instinct for many individuals suffering from dengue is to take over-the-counter painkillers to alleviate the excruciating joint and muscle pain. However, this can be dangerous for several reasons.

Firstly, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding, as dengue infection already lowers platelet count. NSAIDs inhibit platelet function and impair blood clotting, further exacerbating the risk of severe bleeding complications, which can be fatal in cases of DHF (dengue hemorrhagic fever) or DSS (dengue shock syndrome).

Moreover, NSAIDs are metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Since dengue can affect these organs, taking NSAIDs can worsen the damage, leading to liver inflammation, kidney dysfunction, and a worsening of the overall clinical picture.

Another concern is that NSAIDs can mask the warning signs of severe dengue by suppressing fever and pain. This delay in seeking medical attention can be detrimental to early intervention and proper management of severe dengue cases.

Furthermore, NSAIDs compromise the immune system, which is already weakened by dengue infection. This increases the risk of other infections that can worsen the patient’s condition and complicate the recovery process.

Instead of NSAIDs, Dr. Gupta recommends taking acetaminophen (paracetamol) to manage the pain and discomfort of dengue fever. Acetaminophen effectively reduces fever and alleviates pain without increasing the risk of bleeding or harming the liver and kidneys. However, it is essential to follow the recommended dosage instructions and avoid excessive use.

Nevertheless, Dr. Gupta emphasizes that seeking medical evaluation in cases of suspected dengue infection is paramount. Early diagnosis and medical monitoring can help determine the severity of the disease and guide appropriate treatment. While there is no specific antiviral therapy for dengue, supportive care, such as maintaining hydration and managing symptoms, can significantly impact the outcome.

In addition to proper medical management, prevention plays a vital role in combatting dengue. Individuals living in or traveling to dengue-endemic areas should take measures to avoid mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and staying in air-conditioned or screened-in accommodations. Community efforts to eliminate breeding sites for Aedes mosquitoes are also crucial in reducing dengue transmission.

The dengue outbreak in India highlights the importance of understanding the proper management of this illness and avoiding practices that can worsen the situation. By following the recommendations of medical professionals and taking necessary preventive measures, we can collectively work towards controlling the spread of dengue and ensuring the well-being of the population.

You may also like