A fever can be that first indication of an underlying medical condition that needs medical attention. It is an increase in the body temperature to the extent it surpasses what is considered normal for such an individual. The standard body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius. However, this may vary depending on a person and other factors like time of day, season and levels of fitness.
Fevers are quite frequent in young children. The immune systems of young children are still developing and therefore making them more susceptible to various common infections. However, this does not necessarily mean that fevers exclusively affect children. Adults also suffer from fevers from time to time.
Numerous things including immunizations, infections like flu and common colds, food poisoning, teething in infants and toddlers, diseases like Crohn’s disease, extreme sunburn, and some antibiotics can cause a fever. Often, a fever will not be dangerous on its own. However, its occurrence may signal the possibility of an underlying medical condition which may require immediate medical attention.
In as much as fevers are not a danger on their own, some circumstances call for immediate medical attention for yourself or your child. These include:
- Babies 3 months and below with 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
- Infants 6 months and below with rectal temperature of 38.9 and above and exhibiting other symptoms like irritability, discomfort, body aches, etc.
- Babies who are less than two years but above six months with a body temperature reading 38.9 degrees Celsius and which persists for more than a day. The fever may be with or without symptoms including diarrhea, cold or flu.
- For children above two years, call the doctor when they exhibit symptoms like persistent vomiting, unusual irritability, fussiness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, a skin rash that worsens with time, has poor eye contact and listlessness.
- For adults, contact your doctor when the fever is over 39.4, and you start experiencing symptoms including a severe headache, skin rash that worsens rapidly, mental confusion, drowsiness, convulsions seizures, chest pains or difficulty in breathing and unusual sensitivity to light.
Complications Associated with Fever in Children
Children below five years are highly susceptible to fevers and at times may suffer fever-induced seizures and convulsions. These seizures usually involve shaking of the child’s limbs and loss of consciousness. Fortunately, such convulsions do not cause any lasting effects. These attacks also last for a few minutes usually five minutes before the baby regains his consciousness. If your child suffers a seizure, perform the following:
- Lay him on his stomach or his side on the floor
- Loosen his clothing
- Get rid of any objects near the child
- Hold the baby to prevent him from injuring himself during the seizure
- Wait for the baby to recover on his own. Do not try to stop the convulsion or put anything in the child’s mouth. Most convulsions stop on their own.
- Take the child to your doctor for an examination to determine what caused the fever.
What will the ER team want to know about your fever?
Fever, though not that dangerous, may be an indication of an otherwise severe medical condition, especially in children. Therefore, it is imperative to always keep watch over your children and in case they suffer fevers, get medical attention. In the occasion that you visit the Emergency Clinic for your fever, the ER team may require knowing a few things from you including;
- Patient’s medical history. This may include information about any known long-term illnesses that the patient may be suffering from, any allergies, and any medications the patient might be using.
- Patient’s recent travels. This is important especially in cases where the cause of infection is not very clear. It helps in determining the possible cause of the fevers when all other possibilities are ruled out.
- Recent immunizations, especially for children as such, sometimes lead to the rise in body temperature. Immunization for tetanus and diphtheria, for instance, may lead to fever and in such cases, a patient will be given medication to reduce the discomfort associated with fever.
- Any other symptoms exhibited by the patient. The signs are vital in determining the probable cause of the fever which may be an illness. For instance, a fever accompanied by sneezing, coughing, etc. may indicate that the patient has flu or a cold.
- Other details that you may be required to divulge to your ER team about your fever include the duration of the fever what triggers the fever (for instance, intake of some medications), and how often the fever reoccurs, etc.
Usually, the above details will be required to help determine the most probable cause of the fever. They are essential because they will determine the most suitable medical action to take to alleviate both the fever and the underlying medical condition or illness that the patient may be suffering from. Contact Frontline Emergency Care Richmond for more details about fevers.