Fever, especially in a child, is not really a serious symptom and not something to get into a lather about. It is generally the body’s way of warding off and indicating an indication. Fever is the increase in body temperature above the normal level and is regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. Both children and adults can get fever.
In children, fever is sometimes due not to infection but immunization or being overdressed. It is common to most diseases. The cause can generally be related to lifestyle habits such as food and exercise, and the standard of hygiene. Fever, in any case, whatever causes it, should not be ignored.
A healthy person will maintain a temperature of 98.6 degrees F though it may vary between 98.4 and 99.5 degrees F. Variations can occur at different times of the day also and depends on food intake, exercise and surrounding environment. Fever symptoms include aches and pains and shivering in the body, and great thirst and weakness.
Respiration and the pulse rate will be faster as the fever rises. Eventually there will be excessive sweating and an abundant flow of urine, and the symptoms will die down.
Fever can be measured with a thermometer orally, rectally (with a rectal thermometer), in the eardrum or under the armpit. A glass or electronic thermometer can be used.
The treatment of fever varies. If the patient is not unduly uncomfortable then they can be allowed to rest till the fever abates with the usual prescription from the doctor.
Don’t treat children and adolescents with aspirin . The patient should not be overdressed as this might send the fever shooting up. They can be sponged down with tepid water but not with iced baths.
Though we have said that a fever isn’t something to unduly worry about there are some cases when a fever should not be treated lightly. An infant with very high fever should be seen by a doctor.
If an older child or adult shows other symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, chills with shaking, cough or breathlessness then a physician should examine them. If high fever causes convulsions it should be taken seriously.
The patient should take plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. If a child has fever but feels comfortable in light clothes and is playful then there is nothing to worry about.
Given lots of liquids and a light medication the fever will gradually come down. However, if there is nausea, vomiting, dehydration and extreme discomfort and inability to sleep then treat the fever as advised by the doctor. If the fever lasts for longer than a few days or is recurrent at a low grade then seek medical help.
A fever is the body’s natural way of dealing with an infection. The goal should always be to lower temperature until it reaches normal, not to get rid of it totally. The comfort of a patient with fever matters and will guide the treatment.