Man fogging to prevent spread of dengue fever

Dengue Fever in Thailand

Thailand is an amazing place to visit and to live. Like many tropical locations, however, the risk of disease carried via insect bites, especially during the rainy season, is very real. 

While most people naturally think of malaria, one of the more common diseases spread by mosquitos is dengue fever. 

Here we take a closer look at this disease, what the symptoms are and how a functional medicine approach can help with recovery.

What is Dengue Fever?

Head to any tropical or subtropical region and there is likely to be an ever-present challenge from dengue fever. It’s present in more than 120 different countries, including Thailand.

Dengue fever is caused by a series of 4 different viruses that are transmitted through the bites of female mosquitos. These insects proliferate during rainy seasons and generally prefer areas that have plenty of standing water. Outbreaks often tend to be seasonal because of this. 

  • It’s estimated that 390 million people a year are infected through mosquito bites and it causes some 25,000 deaths. 
  • In mild infections, the individual can recover in four to ten days. 
  • With severe cases of dengue fever, the outcome can be fatal but this is relatively rare. 
  • There is no specific medicine used for the treatment of dengue fever and most physicians tend to recommend a standard painkiller such as paracetamol to help ease symptoms.
Dengue fever mosquito

Causes and Symptoms of Dengue Fever

You can only catch dengue fever from an insect that is carrying one of the four variants of the virus – technically known as DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4. 

In quite a lot of cases, people can be asymptomatic which means they don’t exhibit any symptoms at all. Once someone has the virus, it usually takes between a few days and a couple of weeks to incubate before any symptoms occur. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • A high temperature and fever that may come in waves. 
  • Pain particularly behind the eyes and in the muscles and joints. 
  • Nausea and stomach upset. 
  • A red skin rash. 
  • Loss of appetite and fatigue.

In the majority of cases, these symptoms dissipate in about a week. If someone develops severe dengue fever, however, the symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. This happens in less than 1-2% of cases. 

Because there are different variants of the virus, it’s possible to catch dengue fever more than once. If a second case is diagnosed, it can often lead to severe infection and even the development of dengue hemorrhagic fever with a much longer recovery time and potentially fatal consequences.

Dengue Fever in Thailand

The most common time for a dengue fever outbreak in Thailand is during the rainy season. Tourists, in particular, can reduce their risk, therefore, by not travelling to the country between April and December.

The Functional Medicine Approach to Dengue Fever

Particularly if someone has a second infection of dengue fever, recovery can take a long time and have consequences for the individual’s health. 

A conventional medical approach often looks at the symptoms rather than the root cause of a health problem. For people who have spent time in tropical and subtropical countries and contracted dengue fever, this can present real problems during diagnosis. 

A doctor may diagnose a bacterial infection and recommend drugs like painkillers which do nothing to solve the root cause of the problem. 

A functional medicine approach, on the other hand, takes a long hard look at someone’s complete medical history and what has been happening in their life. That will include where someone may have been living recently and what possible threats they might have been exposed to.

Dengue Fever Treatment: A Mini Case Study

A case that highlights the difference between a conventional medical approach and a functional medicine approach occurred in Paris in 2019. The patient went to their doctor with a high fever, back pain and fatigue, among other symptoms. 

The first doctor diagnosed a bacterial infection and this was backed up by a second opinion. Antibiotics and aspirin were given as treatment. The result of this initial treatment was that the dengue fever symptoms experienced by the patient were exacerbated. 

The patient subsequently went to the Miskawaan Health clinic and undertook a full assessment that included looking at the complete medical history of the patient and taking blood tests. Results from the tests showed that the patient was indeed suffering from dengue fever and also had a low white blood count that comprised their immune system and their ability to combat the infection. 

The medical treatment provided by Miskawaan involved a regime of proprietary infusions and supplements that helped boost white blood cells and platelet counts which in turn improved the immune response. 

Within the first days following treatment, the patient found their health returning to normal and two weeks later, they were able to return to work and start exercising in the gym again.