Dengue ~ The Gift that Keeps on Giving

It’s now been over five months since I contracted Dengue Fever. Although I was only really sick for about a week or two, I still a couple of lingering after effects that I thought would like to share. You know, if any of you out there happen to get Dengue Fever and if you’re like me you aren’t sure if you’re recovering “normally”.

One of the main side effects that I haven’t really shared with anyone other than my family, is severe hair loss. And they only know about it because SU was constantly finding clumps all over the house and now Mom has been finding hair all over her furniture.

Prior to leaving for my visit to Canada I talked to my girlfriend (at whose house I was staying at in Panama City), who also happens to be a trained hair dresser and aesthetician. Thank goodness she confirmed what I was experiencing was entirely normal, but even then when she was cutting my hair she was quite alarmed by the amount of hair I was losing. I’m happy to say that my hair loss has slowed down in the last few days and is no longer coming out in clumps but the loss is still higher than normal. I’m very fortunate that I have thick hair and the loss seems to be all over instead of just in certain spots.

The way my friend explained my hair loss to me made a lot of sense. Dengue doesn’t directly affect the hair follicles or cause the hair loss but the shock to my body has interrupted the normal growth cycle of my hair. She asked me a couple of questions and based on the fact that my hair loss only began in March, almost three months after my illness, it seems likely that this is the case. The way she explained it to me all hair has a growth stage and a resting stage. The growth stage lasts about 3 years and the resting stage lasts around 3 months. The resting hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by growth of a new growth hair. Normally, 5-15% of the hair on the scalp is usually resting. Extreme shedding is started when a stress or change causes many of the hairs to enter the resting phase all at once. Shedding does not occur until the new hair growth begin. The developing hairs force the resting hairs out of the follicle. So, it seems that it took about three months for my hair to start falling out, it’s been coming out for a couple of months now (although it has slowed) and it could take another three to six months for everything to recover. Yay me!

I’ve always been somewhat prone to cold sores but luckily in Panama I don’t need a prescription for the medication that slows their growth. With a compromised immune system I’ve been catching them more often but I always have my medication at the ready. But, silly me, I didn’t make sure that I went and bought some before I left on my trip, so, I’ve been battling with one on my nose and a small one on my lip, but they are healing. The other kind of icky skin thing I’ve been dealing with is small bumps all over my back, not really a rash and not noticeable, but there just the same. These also seem to be drying up (like the rest of my skin in the dry Alberta air) and going away slowly.

I feel very good other than those few lingering effects. I was probably fortunate that we live a fairly healthy lifestyle and I’ve tried, since my recovery to not take being healthy for granted. It’s gratifying to know that this too shall pass and I’m not a freak. I’ve learned over the years that life can change in an instant. Coming through this is another example of how not to take good health for granted, whether you’re in the campo or elsewhere.

Read more posts about Dengue Fever:



About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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10 Responses to Dengue ~ The Gift that Keeps on Giving

  1. schuttzie says:

    Oh, I’m so glad to hear that it is slowing down! My hair started to get really thin (always had THICK hair) in my mid 20’s because of a stressful relationship. Hopefully, eventually it will be back to normal. I know how it is to be a bit self-conscious about it but it’s OK because we are all different people in this world. ((HUGS))

    • indacampo says:

      I’ve always been told my hair is fine but I have a lot of it so I’m very lucky. It is naturally curly also but I’ve got keratin straightener in it to keep the frizz down in Panama. I’m very grateful to come through with only these minor issues though. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  2. schuttzie says:

    Just wanted to add that we should never take our health for granted 🙂

  3. Suzi says:

    I’m glad to know you are doing well except for these few lingering side effects. It is so great of you to share all this personal information as a help to others going through similar things. It’s amazing how trauma to the body whether from surgery, illness of stress, can have lasting effects for an indeterminable amount of time. Thanks for sharing.

    • indacampo says:

      Yes, Dengue is something like having a baby (if I can use that analogy LOL!). You don’t really know how you’re going to come through it until you actually go through it. And thank you for reading.

  4. Lo Siento, praying for your complete recovery.

  5. pklainer says:

    Karen, I had no idea dengue left lingering effects like hair loss. So glad the problem seems to be resolving itself. I’m sure you had good medical advice after your bout with dengue. Would you share with us how you assessing the risk of re-infection by one of the other strains? Dengue, as you know, is now all through the Caribbean and making inroads into Florida. More of us will have to deal with the possibility of infection than have even thought about it before. Lots to learn.

  6. I’m so sorry you had to go through all this, and hope the after effects resolve quickly. Thanks for the explanation about the hair loss. I didn’t know about the three month thing. I had an episode some time back that made no sense, but now it does.

  7. oldsalt1942 says:

    I went through a bout with Dengue when I spent three months on my sailboat in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. There’s a reason it’s called “Breakbone Fever.” As you know, EVERYTHING hurts. Even your eyelashes hurt. There’s really nothing you can do for it but ride it out. Fortunately, believe it or not, there was a cholera epidemic on the Rio then and I’d stocked up on rehydration salts. Cholera kills by dehydration. In my lucid moments on the boat I drank as much of that stuff as I could stand at a time because it replaces the electrolytes lost to the fever. When it was all over I literally had to tie my pants on because I’d lost about 12 pounds or so. (p.s. I DON’T recommend dengue as a weight loss program.)

    • indacampo says:

      I agree about the weight loss program. And similarly I believe that Gatorade saved my life.

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