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Dengue fever in Bali: How to survive it

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Dengue fever Bali. Sounds like something I would never google, because I never thought that this would be something that could happen to me. In this blog I want to explain a little more about dengue fever, how it was for me personally, how you can protect yourself and what you can do when you actually have dengue fever.

How do you get dengue?

First of all: Dengue is a virus and can only be transmitted by a little mosquito. It is a mosquito with white stripes on the legs but let’s be honest – they are so tiny how do you see the difference? Once you get bitten it takes three to seven days until the first symptoms start.

How to protect yourself

If you are traveling to a country where there are dengue mosquitos, this is what you need to know:

  • Dengue mosquitos like to be near water or moors
  • Dengue mosquitos like also to be near rice fields
  • They only bite during the day
  • The only spray that helps against these mosquitos is the one with DEET in it. Every other spray is NOT helping against this mosquito. You can order a good spray here.
  • Make it a routine / habit that you put on mosquito spray first thing in the morning and take a tiny bottle with you
  • Wear long cloth whenever possible

If you have of these symptoms go see a doctor for a blood test:

  • High fever
  • Major headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Muscle and joint pain

What to do if you have dengue:

  • Do a daily blood test
  • Drink 3-4 liters water a day, if this is not possible you need a daily IV
  • Papaya leaf (not just papaya) juice helps with the fever
  • Guava juice should increase the number of blood platelets
  • Have the natural remedy phosphorus. This is the MAIN thing that helped me. You can buy your Homeopathic Accident and Emergency First Aid Kit online. Make sure you buy one of these two (basic or emergency) kits so you have the right remedy for dengue in it.
  • I also have this book , which will help you guide through all the natural remedies and how much you should take a day.

Most important:

Make sure you have a Travel Insurance. Seriously you guys, this is a true story: The hospital wouldn’t  treat me until they were sure I had an insurance.

I was in the lying at the hospital’s reception floor from 9pm until 2am in the morning because they needed to see a proof which I couldn’t find at that moment.

Way back in Switzerland I was working for a travel insurance company and I therefor already knew how important it was to have an insurance, but trust me when you are actually in the situation you thank yourself a million times!

You can easily buy your insurance online here. With this Travel Insurance you don’t have to worry at all about coverage.

Me and my boyfriend are personally using World Nomads. You can even get it when you are already travelling. Simply register online here. Also amazing if you are travelling a longer time of period.

Dengue Fever Bali

This picture was taken before the hospital when I was getting daily IVs but my blood results got worse anyway.

How does dengue feel like?

In my case it started like the flu, but I felt it was stronger, because every single part in body was hurting and aching. My muscles, my joints and especially my head. My fever was only 38.5, which is not typical for dengue, but I knew it was more than just the flue. I guess your body just tells you. Anyway I went to the doctor and he did a blood test, which proved that it was dengue. The cure? Wait until it is over. Having patience and just waiting is definitely not my strong points, that’s why I talked to Balinese people and as well to a naturopath. I wanted to know what the natural remedies were and what I could do.

My personal experience

I was surprised that almost every person I asked, who lived in Bali, told me to drink papaya leaf and guava juice. So I started drinking that and let me tell you papaya leaf juice tastes gross. I will get more into that later on.

After three days I did not feel better, but worse. I couldn’t eat or drink because my body just wouldn’t keep it and I felt so nauseous and weak. On top of that my blood test came in every day a little worse – my number of platelets were drastically decreasing and after the fifth day I needed to go to the hospital. Your platelets number should not be under a 100, normal they are around 200, but mine were at 40! The doctor said to me: “ If your platelets number is too low and you would start bleeding then there is a possibility you could bleed out and die” ehm wait what? I knew this was dangerous but that really scared me.

I went to the BIMC hospital in Kuta and apart from registration process it was pretty good there. The staff was nice and I was on the IV 24/7, but still my blood was not good and got worse.

What helped me

That’s when I thought again ok back to the natural stuff. I ordered every day a papaya leaf juice at Motion Café in Canggu and my boyfriend brought it everyday to the hospital in Kuta. My dear friend here in Bali sent me natural remedies to increase the number of platelets and gave me Vitamin C, D and Zink. I am not kidding you, but after one day of taking the natural remedies I felt better and only after 2 days of taking them I was released from the hospital.

After dengue – when your energy is gone

When I came home I was as weak as never in my whole life. Walking to the bathroom? Exhausting. Sitting outside in the heat? Almost impossible. I stayed in the AC room for another week.

Now my energy is slowly coming back, but really slowly. I am still not able to do any sport, but I hope next week I can start with a slow Yoga session.

What I’ve learned

I have learned a lot from this experience, not only about natural remedies but about appreciating your healthy body – every day. I have started doing a daily gratitude meditation and I am more aware of my body than I ever was.

UPDATE: It took me actually a couple of months to recover and I lost a lot of hair. Now almost a year later I feel completly fine again.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Andrea

    Jeeze, that’s a crazy experience! I know the doctors always caution about dengue and mosquito borne diseases, but this sounds horrible! I have giardia once in South America and I thought that was bad! This was a really informative post, thanks for sharing your experience!!

    December 30, 2016 at 2:09 am
  • Reply Abigail

    Dengue is so scary! That is why we were really concerned about that when exploring Southeast Asia. I suffered dengue once and it was no fun. Stay safe on your travels!

    December 30, 2016 at 2:34 am
  • Reply Kirstin

    Oh gosh how scary! So glad you’re okay now though and could learn some valuable lessons out of your experience and the frailty of life. I’ve had a similar experience and it does wonders for your own perception of how strong you are & what you can get yourself through!

    December 30, 2016 at 2:39 am
  • Reply Maggie

    Wow, sorry you had to go through that! So glad you’re ok now. I hope you start to feel 100% soon!

    December 30, 2016 at 3:45 am
  • Reply Allison

    You were so unlucky to get struck down. I have been Bali six times and have always been lucky. Glad you were treated well in BIMC. I went to the dentist in BIMC in Nusa Dua and they were fabulous.

    December 30, 2016 at 11:14 am
  • Reply Diana - MVMT Blog

    This is such a useful post. I’m sorry this happened to you but glad you had health insurance and are healing now. My friend’s sister got dengue in Guatemala and actually got an infection from that, so months later she is still dealing with the repercussions and still has no energy at all. I hope more people read your post so they can be aware of how to prevent themselves from getting it!

    December 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm
  • Reply Cliodhna- Your Next Big Trip

    I’m so sorry that this happened to you! Thanks for writing such an informative post. Lots of people overlook travel advice thinking it wont happen to them so it’s great that you’ve shared your experience!

    December 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm
  • Reply Soraya

    Oh no! This does not sound like fun. My Dad caught dengue fever too and was in hospital for a few days. Nadine, this is a great guide to protecting yourself against dengue fever. I had NO idea about DEET in your insect repellent. Really good to know as I am constantly having to protect myself against mosquitos. Papaya leaf juice does not sound delightful, but I have heard it is good to have when you catch dengue fever. Thanks for sharing!

    December 31, 2016 at 12:02 am
  • Reply Travel Bloggers to Watch out for in 2017

    […] easy: When I got dengue fever. I heard many bad stories about it, but actually having it was even worse, but it made me more […]

    January 26, 2017 at 6:40 pm
  • Reply Blonde Seashell - Hideout Lightroom Bali the perfect jungle getaway in Bali

    […] The place itself is opposite at a river, which makes it even more magical, but also a place where mosquitos like to be. Read my article about dengue fever here. […]

    July 27, 2017 at 8:26 am
  • Reply Rebecca K

    We had a vacation in Bali almost two years ago. Just after few days we came I started to feel really tired and I had no energy nor appetite. I had diarrhea but I though that it was just a basic Bali Belly. It turned out that I had salmonella infection and possibly an ameba in my gut. I lost almost 8kg (and I was really skinny already) and felt TERRIBLE. I was getting IV for 10 days. Finally I could eat small amounts of smashed potatoes and bananas. Then little bit of rice. Then a light toasted bread. That was all I could eat for few months. We traveled back home to Europe (30 hours…) and I had never felt more exhausted. I recovered fully in a year. I really liked Bali but my husband won’t never go back there after that episode.

    July 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm
    • Reply Blonde Seashell

      oh wow that’s a crazy story! thank you so much for sharing this! I hope you are ok now. Obviously Bali has also it’s downsides. Again thanks for sharing your story!

      July 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

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