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Dealing with dengue

Illustration by REY RIVERA

The statistics are enough to scare us to death: Dengue (the deadly mosquito-borne viral infection) cases have grown dramatically over the decades. Almost half of the world’s population is at risk from dengue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 50-100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.

No one is spared from this nightmare of a scourge. Not even one who lives a totally healthy lifestyle. Like Angelo Songco of Sugarleaf (an organic market-cum-café), who’s most passionate about health and fitness. He just survived a bruising battle with dengue and here, he shares his scary story.

How did Angelo get dengue?

I guess you can say it came like a thief in the night. “ The mosquitoes at home somehow found their way into my bedroom!,” he laments. “So it’s important to check for holes or gaps in your window screens.  Do not wait to get dengue as it’s the most unpleasant feeling ever!”  

But it could also have come from his trip to Dipolog where he gave a health talk (how ironic!) to HRIM students at DMC.  Angelo learned that the school dean and the head of corporate communications also contracted dengue during the days before and after his visit.

Angelo had the usual symptom of high-grade fever that didn’t go down for five days, despite taking paracetamol.  He notes, “Good thing I didn’t encounter more alarming, life-threatening bleeding. I also got a terrible headache, which practically incapacitated me from doing any work-related activity. Bouts with flu simply slow me down, but dengue can immobilize you completely with a terrible headache and chilling, high-grade fever. I also lost my appetite. I normally still have an appetite when I get sick, but dengue apparently knocks your taste buds out cold!”

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When his fever refused to go down (it was hovering between 39 and mid 40s), Angelo decided to see his family doctor at his new Health Cube office in Promenade.  He did the complete laboratory works, X-ray, and urine exam.  Alarmingly, an indicator for dengue turned out positive.  “My platelets were still normal/high on the second day of the fever, but it gradually went down, down, down, so I was advised to have myself confined at Cardinal Santos on the fourth day when my platelets were still going down.  I had IV (intravenous) to ensure against dehydration.”

What gave him some measure of relief during this ordeal was the IV treatment as there is yet no cure for dengue. And there are now four strains so apparently, warns Angelo, a person can get it more than once!

How did he get cured? 

Well-meaning people recommended to Angelo assorted folk cures and remedies, some of which he tried.  “I took coconut nectar as well as papaya leaves supposedly to increase my platelets.  I couldn’t eat and even drink properly as everything tasted terrible!” 

So, how is Angelo now safeguarding himself against dengue? Any prevention tips he can share?

He prescribes, “Anything citronella, eucalyptus, and lemongrass supposedly helps ward off mosquitoes.  Since I have small nieces and a nephew, the house was fumigated for possible breeding grounds of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.”

What lessons did he learn from this ordeal?  

“That despite a healthy lifestyle, one is not totally immune from the incredibly harmful effects of the dengue virus and prevention is really worthwhile,” he stresses.

He adds, “It’s important to check for stagnant water all over the house.  And when you get it, complement doctor’s care with natural remedies and keep hydrated!”

As a committed health advocate, Angelo shares the different natural remedies prescribed by concerned friends and his family during his five-day hospital confinement.  “Some may be quite familiar already to all of us, but what some people do not realize is the mega dose one has to take supposedly for the platelet-increasing properties to take effect,” he notes. “So here they are, in no particular order: Coconut nectar, a tablespoonful every hour; colloidal silver for the fever; echinacea for immunity building; fresh fruit and fruit juices; green barley; tawa-tawa, preferably fresh instead of in tea bag form; papaya leaves, fresh or in capsule form; Gatorade for hydration; young coconut water.

Once again with feeling, Angelo gives these life-saving tips: “Always remember that prevention is much better than having to deal with the ordeal that is dengue.  Keep surroundings clean; wear mosquito repellents; and keep your immune system up with a balanced diet and proper exercise!”

Don’t be part of the scary dengue statistics!

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Note: This information is meant to be shared to ward off dengue. Use it as a guide only and with the advice of your trusted health provider.

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