Effects of Dengue Fever - Hair Loss, Weight Loss & more

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Four months ago, I contracted dengue fever in Singapoore. Four months later, I am still suffering from the symptoms of dengue. As a woman who enjoys what life brings to me regardless of pain or joy and a lover of fashion, an integral part of me which I use to express myself with (that's why I founded Fashion by Unlikely You), I am shocked by the lack of information provided by the government authorities on this ballooning dengue fever epidemic in Singapore.


For loyal readers who have followed this site closely, I have written about my first contact with dengue and my harrowing experiences here:

Read Part 1 of My Dengue Diary: Fashion Blogger Diaries: Dengue Fever Ordeal in Singapore

Read Part 2 of My Dengue Diary: Fashion Blogger Diaries: Dengue Sucked The Life Out of Me

Read Part 3 of My Dengue Diary: Fashion Blogger Diaries: Itchy Dengue Rash Cover My Hands and Feet

Read Part 4 of My Dengue Diary: Fashion Blogger Diaries: Remembering Those Who Suffered from Dengue [FINAL]




I would like to share my personal experience on contracting and managing the long-term detrimental effects of dengue.

Since there is a lack of information about dengue fever and how to cope with it, I have attempted to gather more information online on websites and countless forums to get a feel of how others suffering from dengue fever are coping with the viral disease and its effects, I read about many sad stories of healthy men who became infertile and countless people who had to cope with extreme hair loss in patches or alopecia. 

I have been experiencing extreme hair loss for close to two months now and initially I was frightened and did not know what to do. I had no idea that my extreme hair fall was a result of dengue and thought that I had some hormonal imbalance issue or autoimmune deficiency disease going on. 

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What was I to do when faced with sudden extreme hair loss?

After "recovering" from dengue fever, my red and white blood cell counts were still below normal although I was discharged and deemed "fit enough" to do without follow-up consultations with my doctor.

After two weeks of continuous hair-loss in ridiculous bunches, I visited the nearest GP who suggested I might have hormonal imbalance problems and recommended I take several blood tests.

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It was hard to come to terms with the cold hard fact that my extreme hair loss was unstoppable

At this point of time, I felt like a lab rat having needles stuck in the vein on my arm every now and then. Before dengue, the only recollection of a needle in my arm was when I was 12 and had to be vaccinated against chicken pox.

Confused and frustrated, I decided to give it some thought before proceeding with a cocktail of blood tests that were expensive and perhaps totally unnecessary.

About a week later after some tearful and sleepless nights after wondering what my co-workers, clients and people around me would think of me with a huge bald patch and excessively thin hair, I decided to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

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My extreme hair loss just after two showers. I tried everything and trust me, nothing worked to prevent this hair loss which was my body's natural response to trauma - my dengue fever ordeal

It didn't help that I'm in a line of work that's people-facing most of the time. At that point of time for the first time in life, I started to develop cold sores. The doctor took my blood and the report did not look good at all. My immune system was completely destroyed resulting in cold sores, alopecia and other complications linked to my immune system deficiency. After dengue which ruined my health and wreaked havoc in my body and mind, physically I would not be able to return to my normal health again.

"I lost 10 kilograms since acquiring dengue fever and since then my diet has changed to a stringent mix of immune-system boosting foods in hope that my body would be able to return to a normal, healthy functioning level."

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Me looking significantly emaciated compared to the "big-boned" me in the past 

Due to frequent fogging and changes in the environment such as massive amounts of ongoing construction and urbanization of Singapore, the dengue virus strain has mutated, becoming more dangerous and resistant to drugs.

Here is my compilation of the latest research in Asia on the new complications of dengue fever that attacks the most vital organ in our body - the brain.

I have attempted to explain the medical terms in my own words or with the help of Wikipedia. The article is long but it will benefit you and your family or loved ones once you understand how dangerous this virus is and what you can do to alleviate the situation in case of infection.


Introduction:

Dengue is an acute human immunodeficiency viral disease (similar to HIV/AIDS) transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes. It is highly endemic in many tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Neurological complications of dengue infection have increased recently. In this study, we report various neurological complications observed during the last 2 years in 26 dengue fever patients.
Methods:

Patients with neurological complications with positive serology (1) IgM Antibody (2) for dengue infection were consecutively recruited from the Department of Neurology/Medicine from a tertiary center of Lucknow, India. 

Serology (1) means the diagnostic identification of antibodies in blood plasma or bodily fluids. Antibodies are formed in response to an infection against a microorganism, bacteria, other foreign proteins or in this instance an autoimmune disease.

IgM antibody (2) stands for Immunoglobulin M or IgM. IgM is a basic antibody that is produced by B cells and is by far the largest antibody in the human circulatory system. It is the first antibody to appear in response to initial exposure to antigen, in this case the dengue virus.

These patients were subjected to a detailed clinical evaluation, laboratory assessment including blood count, hematocrit, coagulation parameters, biochemical assays, serology for dengue fever, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for human immunodeficiency virus and other relevant investigations.

Study subjects

  • Patients inflicted with neurological complications from dengue fever
  • 18 out of 26 patients were male. 
  • The age of patients ranged from 11 to 60 years (mean age, 29.08 years)
  • General characteristics of dengue infection
  • Two patients were suffering from dengue shock syndrome
  • Two patients from dengue hemorrhagic fever
  • Remaining patients had dengue fever
Results

10 out of 26 patients or 38% were suffering from brachial neuritis.

Brachial neuritis occurs when the nerves that control your shoulder, arm, and hand become inflamed. These nerves run from your spinal cord along your neck and shoulder into your arm. Brachial neuritis can cause severe pain in your shoulder and when it subsides, your shoulder may be weak, limiting your movement.

4 patients or 15% had encephalopathy which is irreversible or reversible brain injury. 

3 patients or 11% were diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, a serious disorder that occurs when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness.

Another 3 patients or 11% had hypokalemic paralysis (muscle weaknesses) associated with dengue fever and two patients had acute viral myositis. Myositis is an inflammation or swelling of the muscles, often caused by injury, infection, or an autoimmune disorder. 

A rare neurological disorder of unknown causes which appears to be the result of an autoimmune process involving the nervous system or Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome was diagnosed in 2 patients or 7%. Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome is an extremely rare condition, affecting as few as 1 in 10,000,000 people per year.

Petechial rash was seen in four patients or 15%. Thrombocytopenia or low blood platelet count was noted in five patients. Platelets help blood to clot. Low blood platelet count leads to abnormal bleeding which is potentially fatal.

Hepatosplenomegaly (3) was found in two patients and renal failure manifested with high blood urea and serum creatinine in two patients.

Hepatosplenomegaly (3) or HSM is the simultaneous enlargement of both the liver and the spleen. HSM can occur as the result of acute viral hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, and histoplasmosis or it can be the sign of a serious and life threatening lysosomal storage disease. Systemic venous hypertension can also increase the risk for developing hepatosplenomegaly, which may be seen in those patients with right-sided heart failure.

One patient suffered from acute myelitis (4). He manifested with a 3-day history of acute muscle weakness with involuntary bladder and bowel involvement. 

Myelitis (4) is the infection or the inflammation of the spinal cord - part of the central nervous system that acts as a bridge between a brain and the rest of a body.

2 out of 3 patients had significant respiratory problems and required prolonged ventilator support. Studies also revealed acute paralysis in two patients.

Conclusion

In recent years, the virological characteristics of dengue viruses have been changing, resulting in widespread neurological complications concerned with neurotropism leading to encephalitis (irritation and swelling of the brain), meningitis (a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), stroke and, Guillain Barre syndrome and inflammation of the optic nerve which may cause sudden, reduced vision in the affected eye.

Dengue fever is a disease of significant public health problem throughout the world. In this study, we have discovered two new neurological complications of dengue fever: Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (rare neurological disorder) and brachial neuritis (inflamed nerves leading to paralysis), which, to the best of our knowledge, have not been mentioned before in any written piece of literature.

Effects of Dengue

The mortality rate of dengue for children below the age of 10 lies between the range of 6% to 30%. Infants are more prone to death from dengue fever.

Patients who are recovering from dengue fever are complaining about extreme hair loss due to a condition called Telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a form of non-scarring alopecia characterized by diffuse hair shedding, often with an acute onset. A chronic form with a more insidious onset and a longer duration also exists. Telogen effluvium is a reactive process caused by a metabolic or hormonal stress or by medications. Generally, recovery is spontaneous and occurs within 6 months. (Source: Medscape.com)

Depending on which of the four strains of dengue virus one has caught and how your body reacts to it, here are the effects of dengue fever I am experiencing.

- compromised immune system

- cold sores due to compromised immune system

- abnormal white/ red blood cell count

- low lymphocytes count (the body becomes susceptible to infections like tumours and cancer. Low lymphocytes count can also lead to the damage of various body organs.)

- increased fatigue and muscle weakness

- liver problem

- acute hair loss or telogen effluvium

- significant weight loss

- if you have pre-existing conditions you can be sure dengue will only make   things worse

Sometimes, people close to me tell me that I'm lucky to be alive. I must say my healthy eating habits have helped a bit. 

21 year-old-boy Ang Yong Han and a 35-year-old woman have sadly been diagnosed with Dengue Shock Syndrome and passed away this year. To date, there have been several reported cases of dengue deaths as the number of reported infected this year have risen to 18,525 as of today.

Here is my advice to all my dear readers 

1) Remember to be vigilant about stagnating puddles of water in and outside of your home. (Dish-washing area, flower pots, basins, toilet bowls) Dengue mosquitoes are active early in the morning and later in the evening at around 7pm.

2) Lead a healthy lifestyle and be mindful of what you eat just like I do. Investing in nutritious, organic and non-GMO foods will go a long way to protect and prevent you from debilitating of life-threatening diseases such as dengue.

3) One of my favourites is a DIY mosquito repellent using lavender and vinegar here or you can purchase natural mosquito repellent made of garlic oil, pine oil and camphor which I use at home too. (Enquire for one at a pharmacy near you).

Comments

  1. I think you should post now. Its being a long time to read from your latest posts here.Please add more valuable post for us.
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    ReplyDelete
  2. I am definitely bookmarking this website and sharing it with my acquaintances. You will be getting plenty of visitors to your website from me!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dengue is spreading all over and only way to fight with it is keep cleanliness around take precautions and also look after what you eat. One of my close relative has got dengue due to which i got to know more about this disease. Kiwi fruit is best to have during this time also papaya leaves juice is very effective to fight with dengue.

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  4. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I really appreciate the addition of a scientific article too. I got dengue a few months ago along with a friend I was traveling with in Bangalore. It wasn't until she told me she'd been loosing her hair that I realized it probably wasn't the change in shampoo that was causing my hair loss. I'm also glad to know that my canker sores are due to dengue as well. You're right about a lack of complete information, I was never told and never read a complete list of complications when I initially researched them. There is so much to look out for now, thanks for helping to keep me healthy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're most welcome. Hope you have fully recovered your ordeal with dengue.

      Delete
  5. It's a reality that there is no remedy for hair reduction. So if you're building a hairless spot or your hair is loss a bit, nothing short a hair implant can deliver a long lasting solution.


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    ReplyDelete
  6. I got dengue a 3 months ago and facing hair loss now. what can I do ?? im sad n worry..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. In some cases, treating the underlying cause will correct the problem. Other treatments include
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  8. Thanks for putting this online. I thought I was going go nuts with my extreme hair fall ordeal. i had dengue 1.5 months ago and now i am confident that this is the main cause of my hair loss. it's frightening because it seems that there is no medicine or treatment for this and that only time will heal the body - thus, stopping hair fall. and yes, i think about what my friends and co workers will think - which is so very bad of me ... but i can't help it. so, for now im just gonna to wait and see. but if someone has a different experience and can share the hair loss treatment i would be grateful. thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, how long did the hair fall last? Im currently experiencing it now. I had dengue last Jan 2016. Thanks.

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    2. Hi Teresa,

      My hair lost lasted for about six months and full recovery (growth of new hair) takes at least a year.

      Hope you're doing much better now.

      Delete
  9. this article is grateful i suffered dengu on 8 seept after 2 month experiend lot of hair loss approx 150 strands a day before dengu i donot loss a sin gle hair after bath or shampooning also i m very sad can i get my hair back within a year how many months telogen eflluvium continue i am 22 years female

    ReplyDelete
  10. this article is grateful i suffered dengu on 8 seept after 2 month experiend lot of hair loss approx 150 strands a day before dengu i donot loss a sin gle hair after bath or shampooning also i m very sad can i get my hair back within a year how many months telogen eflluvium continue i am 22 years female

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had same experience, I had dengue last Jan 2016 and I'm having extreme hair fall. How long did it last for you?

      Delete
    2. Omg.. I am facing this problem too.. I had my second dengue fever this April and I have been experiencing very bad hairfall for a week.. I can see a bald spot at the top of my head now.. T_T I wonder what will work and stop this..

      Delete
  11. Aedes mosquitoes has black and white color on body. One can easily identify aedes mosquitoes. Take proper precautions for you are infected by disease spread by mosquitoes such as dengue, malaria, chikungunya etc

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am really like this post because I am also a victim of hair loss. Thanks for sharing some tips and guidelines here.

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  13. Thanks for this great article!! Having been suffering from sudden hair loss which came as a shock to me. My hair has always been on the thick side, so this was extremely demoralizing... Had dengue in Jan 2016, and facing hair loss in April... Thanks so much for helping me figure out what it was, hair loss was making me depressed and worried....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Muslimah,

      So glad to hear that you find the article useful.

      Hope you're feeling much better and happier now!

      Delete
  14. Thanks for sharing this. I had dengue in feb16 and I'm experiencing hair fall in may. I was getting depressed and worried about its cause. Now I know why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I experienced hair loss about 2 months after having dengue.my hair fell out for about one month. I tried many things to revive my hair. Onion juice, rosemary, egg and olive oil. I got a nutricell treatment. It is made in Switzerland and I think it helped greatly. It is not cheap but it is worth it! Good luck.

      Delete
  15. Thank you so much for sharing. I had dengue on Sept 2016 & suffered hair loss since then. Currently, it has been 2 months that Im losing my hair massively. Im very depressed now that my hair is started thinning.
    As mentioned above, your hair took up to 6-12months to fully recover right? Did you try anything along the process to reduce the hair fall or hasten the hait growth? Like eating specific type of food/usage of hair protein/do scalp treatment at salon? Can anyone kindly share their experience on this TQ

    ReplyDelete
  16. People who have weight problems and are starting to shed some fats are worrying about what is the best healthy diet for weight loss. http://www.puertoricopix.com/

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  17. If this problem comes again how we can get out of this problem??

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  18. This topic has always been one of my favorite subjects to read about. I have found your post to be very rousing and full of good information. I will check your other articles shortly.
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  19. Hi there, when my husband and I were young and reckless, we we travelling in Indonesia, actually travelling between Jarkarta and Pedang, in Sumatra, on small cargo ship, deck class, we contracted Dengue. Temps over 41 degs C and aches and pains, I don't know how we survived looking back.
    We end up recovering over a week or so at Lake Toba. About 5weeks later in Srilanka, my hair started to fall out in great clumps. I got to a doctor who recognized what we had had, and gave us a diagnosis. He also prescribed vitamin 12 injections which I gave myself 6 doses over three weeks. By the time I got home 5 months later my hair, had another layer of new hair.
    Today I just thought I'd search the topic, this is the first time I've seen dengue hairloss mentioned.
    I have read that there has been some documented cases of spontaneous recovery from terminal cancer after a severe illness, in which the disease shocks the body and kick starts the body's own immune system, one of those diseases in dengue.
    Thanks for sharing your story,

    ReplyDelete

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