COVID-19 and Dengue: How to Tell Them Apart

by Echo Store on December 11, 2021

In a tropical country like the Philippines where mosquito-borne diseases are endemic, it’s easy to confuse dengue fever with Covid-19. After all, both are caused by viruses, and some symptoms, especially fever and body aches, overlap.

But there are more differences than similarities between these two. The right diagnosis is needed for a patient to get the right treatment. How can you tell them apart? And how can you stay protected?


Similarities

Both Covid-19 and dengue fever are illnesses caused by viruses. Symptoms of either illness may range from mild to severe.

The early signs of these infections overlap in many cases, which is why testing is necessary. With both infections, some of the common early symptoms include fever, body pain, headache, and nausea.

Many people who contract either disease show mild symptoms, which means they can recover at home. However, both Covid-19 and dengue are also fatal and may require hospital-based care. In severe cases, the differences between the two are more pronounced.


Differences

While the initial symptoms of Covid-19 and dengue include fever, the kind of fever that sets differ in severity and persistence. The fever recorded in many Covid cases ranges from low to moderate, often ranging from 37.5 to 39. With dengue, a high fever of 40 is more common.

In addition, the fever in Covid often comes and goes and is manageable with medicines like paracetamol. However, in dengue, the fever can be continuous and persistent.

In dengue, the following symptoms are commonly observed:

  • Headache
  • Muscle, bone, or joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

In severe dengue, abdominal pain or tenderness, persistent vomiting, clinical fluid accumulation, mucosal bleeding, lethargy, restlessness, and liver enlargement may be present.

In Covid-19, symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

It’s important to remember that Covid-19 mutations make it unpredictable. Symptoms may vary per person and may also depend on the variant. 

How to protect yourself from these diseases

The threat of both dengue and Covid-19 is still very present in the Philippines. And while rare, co-infection (contracting both diseases at the same time) does happen, making treatment even more challenging. 

So, how do we protect ourselves?

Keep dengue at bay with these basic measures:

  • Clear containers of stagnant water. These include vases, wet trash bins, roof gutters, and pools.
  • Install mosquito screens in windows and doors.
  • Wear protective clothing.

Use mosquito and insect repellent oils or sprays. We love the ones from Ilog Maria, G Stuff, and Vagabond Farms.

If you become infected with dengue, painkillers like paracetamol will help ease fever and pain. Keeping tawa-tawa concentrate in your medicine cabinet will also prove helpful as clinical trials have shown that tawa-tawa, either in the form of tea or powder capsules, can raise platelets in dengue patients.

As for Covid-19, here are ways to reduce your risk of infection:

  • Wear a face mask when in public. Double-masking with WHO-approved cloth masks over a disposal mask is also recommended. 
  • Practice social distancing. Avoid crowded areas.
  • Practice regular handwashing. If soap and water are not available, sanitize with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face.

In community trials conducted by DOST, virgin coconut oil and lagundi have been found to help diminish symptoms of COVID-19 as early as two days. These trials determined that VCO can be used as an “adjunct supplement” to “suspect and probable cases due to its immunomodulatory properties.” Keeping these products in your pantry won’t hurt. 

Filling up your plate with healthy food and choosing organic and natural products instead of processed foods are also great ways to boost your immune system. As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure and it still holds true with many of the diseases today.

These seemingly small practices make a huge difference in mitigating the risk of being infected. And while mild cases of Covid-19 and dengue can be managed at home, it’s still best to see a doctor when you develop fever with other symptoms like rashes, nausea or vomiting, muscle pains, or shortness of breath. 

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