Warning signs that your dengue infection is getting worse
Warning signs that your dengue infection is getting worse
Symptoms and signs to look out for
min read Published on 20 Aug 2020

Feeling nauseous or feverish? Or have a headache that aches from behind the eyes? You might have dengue fever.


The number of dengue cases in Singapore is rising rapidly. As of 16 Aug 2020, the number of dengue cases in Singapore (24,840) has already exceeded the previous historical record high of 22,170 cases in 2013.


If that does not scare you, know that dengue can be life-threatening if the infection worsens. On 5 Aug 2020, a 25-year-old became the 20th fatality in Singapore this year due to dengue.


If you suspect you have dengue, check if you have the symptoms below, and look out for the warning signs that the infection is getting worse.


Symptoms of dengue


Common symptoms of dengue fever are:

  • Fever
  • Headache with pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Rash
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

Read more: Dengue: Know the symptoms and how to protect yourself


Progression of dengue & warning signs


Dengue is a dynamic disease – which means that its status changes rapidly over time.

Phase 1: High fever


Dengue typically starts off with high fever, accompanied by body aches and pain.


The fever typically lasted for 3-5 days.


Phase 2: Critical period


The second phase is known as the critical period, and it is the most crucial one to look out for. Your body temperature is coming down (below 38 degrees C), lasting for 48 hours.


During this period, your body experiences fluid shifting out of circulation compartments to other body compartments. Fluid may then accumulate in the lungs or abdominal space.


Your heart rate, blood pressure may fluctuate, and in severe cases, drop to very low levels that damage your vital organs, such as your kidney and liver.


You should look out for these warning signs indicating that the infection is getting worse:


  • Abdominal pain, that are not hunger pangs
  • Persistent vomiting, even with just fluids
  • Bleeding tendencies, such as:
    • Blood in your vomit (i.e. red streaks of blood)
    • Bleeding from your nose or gums
    • Easy bruising
    • Black and sticky (tar-like) stools
  • Breathing difficulties


Phase 3: Recovery


After the critical period comes the recovery phase.


During this period, fluids that have shifted out of circulation during the critical phase will return to circulation. In occasional cases, this can lead to fluid overload.


What to do if you have dengue


If you suspect you have dengue fever, seek medical attention immediately.


Based on your symptoms, the doctor will evaluate if further investigations, such as blood tests, are needed.