It is false that water is the “only effective medicine” against dengue

A post titled “How does the dengue in one person ”has reached more than 1,500 interactions and 11,000 shares on Facebook. The publication states that, to cure the disease, the patient must drink plenty of water because this is the “only effective medicine” against this condition.

However, this information is false because there is no specific treatment for dengue. Also, experts do not recommend drinking water as a treatment.

Dengue virus. Photo: capture on Facebook.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), there is no specific treatment for dengue and severe dengue; but nevertheless, early detection and access to adequate medical care decrease mortality.

The entity points out that dengue “is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected female mosquitoes of the genus Aedes.” Among the symptoms, it indicates that patients have a high fever (40Cº) accompanied by a very intense headache, pain behind the eyeballs, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and enlarged lymph nodes or rash.

Regarding severe dengue, the WHO indicates that “it is a life-threatening complication because it involves plasma extravasation, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding or organ failure.” Therefore, it argues that the assistance provided by medical and nursing staff with experience in the intervention can save lives, in addition to maintaining the volume of body fluids of the patient.

In dialogue with Verifier of the Republic, Augusto Tarazona, infectologist and president of the Public Health Commission of the Medical College of Peru (CMP), declares that in cases of dengue (moderately to severely) patients have a plasma extravasation —Where water and protein escape into the extravascular space and cause hemoconcentration and sometimes hypovolemic shock (severe loss of blood and other fluids).

“This extravasation is due to the decrease in the amount of electrolytes (minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, among others) in the blood (…) Therefore, it is given oral rehydration serum so that he maintains a normal amount of fluids (…) But in severe cases this rehydration is given intravenously ”, he details.

He commented that, due to a loss of electrolytes, the patient, as part of the treatment, can drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes – contained in orange juice, chicken soup and others – but not water (it does not contain electrolytes).

The water causes the amount of liquid to increase. This causes it to dilute and, in turn, decrease the amount of electrolytes. In a solution there is a lot of water for little electrolyte (which patients with dengue present). That is counterproductive”, dice.

Also, according to the infectologist, there is no specific treatment for dengue or special medicine that kills the virus; however, there is a “supportive treatment“, Which consists of the body tolerating the effects of the disease and the immune system defending itself against the dengue virus.

Similarly, in a Article – “Dengue” – it is stated that “it is incorrect to say that dengue and severe dengue have no treatment” because there is a set of knowledge that allows the classification of patients according to their symptoms and stage of the disease. In addition, to have an early recognition of the warning signs, which allows the doctor to anticipate “complications and decide the most appropriate therapeutic behaviors.”

In this sense, the research indicates that group A —patients who are cared for at home with guidance and outpatient treatment— can keep bed rest and drink plenty of milk and fruit juices. “Water alone is not enough to replace electrolyte losses associated with sweating, vomiting, or other losses“, need.

Likewise, it indicates other recommendations at this stage, such as the possible use of paracetamol to relieve body aches and reduce fever, and the application of water to the skin with sponges in order to reduce the temperature. “Do not give aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” he warns.

At the same time, it adds the importance of educating the patient and his family regarding the warning signs such as severe or sustained abdominal pain, frequent vomiting and others that may trigger a shock the shock —A life-threatening condition that occurs when the body does not receive enough blood flow.

On the other hand, a document of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) – “Clinical practice guide for the care of dengue cases in Peru” – ensures that drinking plain water “can cause a water and electrolyte imbalance”Therefore, liquids such as oral rehydration salts, fruit juice, milk, barley water, rice water and others are recommended.

Maintains the importance of rehydration in people with dengue not only group A but B and C, either orally or intravenously as the case may be.

In group B, according to the Minsa, there are patients who present warning signs for which they must be immediately hospitalized, in addition, they present comorbidities and social risk. Meanwhile, in group C are those who “require emergency treatment and after the shock has stabilized, they should be referred to a specialized critical patient management unit (ICU).”


The post is false because the dengue it does not include a specific treatment and, in addition, according to experts, the consumption of water is not recommended to treat patients with this disease.

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