With Hyderabad reeling under one of the worst outbreaks of dengue ever, there is a need for awareness on foods that help patients regain their strength after the worst is over.
This haemorrhagic fever primarily affects the liver and platelet count.
After the disease is brought under control, there are certain food groups and vitamins that can be taken to replenish what the body lost.
Certain products like papaya juice and papaya leaf juice are in high demand across Ayurvedic stores in the city, little is known regarding the efficacy of the same. We talk to health experts about the effects of the fever and the foods that help the body recover after an attack.
Dengue Shock Syndrome
Dr Sudarshan Reddy, general physician from Continental Hospitals, says: “Dengue patients have a condition called transaminitis in which the level of liver enzymes go up in the body. It not only destroys platelet cells, but delays their maturing too. Usually, a dengue patient will have fever for four-five days, and after that, the critical phase starts in which the platelet count drops. In a few cases, the count drops below the critical value and we check for bleeding manifestations like bleeding in the gums and abdomen, passing blood with urine etc. This is when blood transfusion is advised. The blood pressure also drops and haemoticrit value becomes high. When a patient exhibits all these symptoms, he/she is known to exhibit Dengue Shock Syndrome. This state is observed in critical cases only.”
Sujatha Stephen, chief nutritionist at Yashoda Hospitals, says: “As dengue patients are prescribed an antibiotics course, we have to think about how to build up their immunity and stamina. Bringing up the platelet count is also another major concern.
"Foods rich in anti-oxidants help in this purpose. Food items that contain vitamins A, C and E should be consumed.
"Though a lot of people are consuming papaya juice, we should remember that it cannot be consumed in high quantities as it can produce a lot of heat and is not advisable when fever is indicated.”
Apart from the above-mentioned vitamins, Vitamin K too plays an important role in the recovery.
“Since dengue is a haemorrhagic fever, vitamin K is advised as it helps in clotting blood. Kale, spinach and broccoli are good sources. To bring up the stamina level, these foods and juices should be given at three-hour intervals. However, the time a person needs to fully regain their strength depends on the general health of the patient. In case of critical cases, we advise them to take protein supplements as diet is not sufficient to take care of their needs,” adds Sujatha.
K Sushma, who is recuperating after dengue, says: “I am avoiding spicy and oily food as they affect the liver. Also, appetite also goes for a toss after the fever. So eating small portions of food every three hours help. Another important thing to remember is that you need to be hydrated all the time. However, drinking too much water can turn counter-effective as it might lead to swelling in the body. You can opt for other fluids like Daal water, juices, coconut water etc.”