Nutrition and Diet for Dengue Fever

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

In Malaysia, dengue fever has become a main public concern when more than 12,000 Malaysian have been infected so far this year. Dengue infection is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Dengue is only spread through the bite of infected mosquito. The dengue can cause serious complication if it is not well controlled and treated. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever is a potentially dead infection spread mainly by Aedes aegypti. The sign can be seen with the presence of collected blood under the skin in a very large bruised area.

There is no exact medication or antiviral treatment currently available for dengue infection. However, Acetaminophen may be used to reduce the symptoms of fever. Aspirin and non-steroidal drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen should be avoided in order to let platelets be well functioning. Patients need to get rest and get enough fluid like plain water, fresh juice or coconut water to prevent dehydration. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) with the aim of remedying dehydration can be part of home remedy.

No specific food to cure dengue fever. However, there are many foods that help boosting the immune system and reduce the symptoms of dengue. According to Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 2011, papaya leaves have the ability against Dengue fever. Patients’ platelets, white blood cells and neutrophils showed increasingly after papaya leaves were administered for twice per day. There is one pilot study about the effect of mangrove crab soup on improvement of clinical symptoms and platelet level in dengue patient had shown positive effects to patients. However, more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of crabs for dengue patients.

Avoid fried food, spices and salty. Herbs can be used to enhance the flavor of the food or use lime or lemon to maintain the taste of tongue. Tea made of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and other fever-reducing herbs are very helpful in controlling body temperature and treat throat infection. Orange is one of the citrus fruit that is full with vitamins that may help in digestion and promote antibodies for sooner recovery. Or else, get fruit juice that contain high amount of vitamin C like strawberries, kiwi, papaya, mango and guava to boost the immune system and help in production of lymphocytes. In one research, decreasing of glutathione and antioxidant status can be seen in patients with dengue. Thus, raise the intake of antioxidant fruits and vegetables which can make better antioxidant level in body.

Patients need energy from food but they may eat less due to losing appetite. Porridge can be the best food to be consumed because it is easy to swallow and provide energy from carbohydrate. Vegetable-soup based helps patients to gain energy and is very beneficial as many vitamins can be found in vegetables. Patients with dengue may suffer with dehydration and electrolytes imbalance. However, coconut water can help to maintain water and electrolytes balance in the body. Adequate amount of protein is very important for tissue repair and production of antibodies. Meat, fish, eggs and milk are the examples source of protein.

Here are a few tips to help preventing the mosquitoes being attracted to us. Do apply mosquito repellents or sleep under mosquito nets. Wear light color clothes that cover the whole body instead of dark color because mosquitoes are attracted more to dark. Do use mosquito coils or mosquito electronic repellent to prevent mosquitoes from entering the space. The most important is to eliminate the places where the mosquitoes can lay their eggs like containers that hold water.

Apollo Medicine, Review Article (2005)
Applied Nutrition Investigation (2004)
Asia Pacific. ChannelNewsAsia. (2014)
Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2011, 2014)
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. MedlinePlus. (2012)
Dengue Homepage, CDC Home. (2012)
Management of Dengue Infection in Adults, (2nd Edition), Ministry of Health Malaysia 
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2009)


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