18 Aug Fever: why PANIC?
Continuing with the topic of understanding the body’s signals, we look at another condition known as Fever. This also belongs to the group of primary signals which act as precursors to many internal diseases. (read related blogs; Pain: a BOON not bane and Your body’s SIGNALS)
Fever is a common condition that induces a lot of anxiety and fear. Most parents loose sleep over their child’s fever. Over the years this has developed into a mass phobia; a response well understood but not justified. This blog focuses on children and is aimed specifically at their concerned parents.
Like pain fever too occurs for a reason. How do you purify water? You boil it. Similarly, the body increases its internal temperature to boil the most abundantly available liquid i.e. the blood. It does this to defend itself from an impending attack (e.g. an infection; to kill and eliminate the bacteria or viruses). Also the attack creates an emergency situation within the body which is trying to deal with the situation (read inflammation). The part of the brain called the hypothalamus acts as a thermostat and controls this mechanism. By popping a pill (read fever-reducing drug) you forcibly switch-off this thermostat. This brings down the temperature mechanically and merely treats the symptom without dealing with the cause.
Measurement & Range
It is usually done orally by placing a clinical thermometer under the tongue or in the armpit. In special cases it can be done via the anal route by a trained professional. The ideal way is oral though. An oral temperature of more than 100° F (37.8° C) is technically considered as fever. 100 to 102° F (37.8-39° C) is a low-grade fever. 104 to 108° F (40-42° C) is a high-grade fever (usually with an identifiable cause. Above 108° F (40° C) is considered serious as it can cause brain damage. This is very rare in real life though and the damage is not permanent. Children develop more fever (and higher temperatures) due to a more sensitive and immature immune system than adults.
What to do?
Follow the saying “Feed a cold, starve a fever”. First find out the cause and eliminate it (with professional help as required). Second is to fast and rest (read sleep). Lastly if required do sponging.
Fasting supports the body to focus on the task at hand and intake of food distracts it. Digestion takes up a lot of energy and blood supply. Rest or sleep further aids speedy recovery by prioritising other processes because of the shutdown. Sponging is only required in case of children to minimise their discomfort. The ideal way to sponge is by using a thick cloth (e.g. Turkish towel) dipped in tepid water (with added rock salt, if available). The areas to be sponged are the torso (both front & back), palms and soles as these cover the maximum surface area.
So next time you have fever, let it run its own course. At least, do not press the panic button immediately. Wait until the first spike subsides.
(Note: Do not ignore if (a) any continuing fever for more than 3 days and/or, (b) with associated symptoms involving other systems, (c) especially in children below the age of 5 years or, (d) with history of seizures and (e) if the child looks sick. Seek professional medical advise immediately)
Keep reading and happy healing!
the healing tribe