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Malaria

Fever - Fever in Thailand

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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A fever occurs when your temperature rises above its normal range. What's normal for you may be a little higher or lower than the average temperature of  37 C. That's why it's hard to say just what a fever is. But a "significant" fever is usually defined as an oral or ear temperature of 38 C or a rectal temperature of 39 C. If you're an adult, a fever may be uncomfortable, but it usually isn't dangerous unless it rises above 39 C. For very young children and infants, however, even slightly elevated temperatures may indicate a serious infection. In newborns, a subnormal temperature - rather than a fever - may be a sign of serious illness.

Screening and diagnosis 

Your doctor will likely diagnose the cause of your fever based on your other symptoms and a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests to confirm a diagnosis. If your doctor suspects pneumonia, for instance, you may have a chest X-ray following your physical exam. In other cases you may have blood or urine tests to check for signs of infection.

If you have a low-grade fever that persists for three weeks or more, but have no other symptoms, your doctor may recommend a variety of tests to help find the cause. These may include blood tests and X-rays.

Complications 

A rapid rise or fall in temperature may cause a febrile seizure in a small percentage of children younger than age 5. Although they're alarming for parents, the vast majority of febrile seizures cause no lasting effects.

If a seizure occurs, lay your child on his or her side. Remove any sharp objects that are near your child, loosen tight clothing and hold your child to prevent injury. Don't place anything in your child's mouth or try to stop the seizure. Although most seizures stop on their own, call for emergency medical assistance if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes.

If possible, try to time the seizure using your watch or a clock. Because they're so alarming, seizures often seem to last longer than they really do. Also try to note which part of your child's body begins to shake first. This can help your doctor understand the cause of the seizure. Your pediatrician should see your child as soon as possible.

Treatment 

Medical treatment will depend on the cause of your fever. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections, such as pneumonia or tonsillitis. For viral infections, including stomach flu (gastroenteritis) and mononucleosis, the best treatment is often rest and plenty of fluids.

  • flu
  • Your doctor may also suggest taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) to lower a very high fever. Adults may also use aspirin. But don't give aspirin to children. It may trigger a rare, but potentially fatal, disorder known as Reye's syndrome.

    Prevention 

    The best way to prevent fevers is to reduce your exposure to infectious diseases. One of the most effective ways to do that is also one of the simplest — frequent hand washing.

    Teach your children to wash their hands often, especially before they eat, and after using the bathroom, spending time in a crowded public place, or petting animals. Show them how to wash their hands vigorously, covering both the front and back of each hand with soap, and rinsing thoroughly under running water. Carry hand-washing towelettes with you for times when you don't have access to soap and water. When possible, teach your kids not to touch their nose, mouth or eyes — the main way viral infections are transmitted.

    Self-care 

    Because your body loses more water with a fever, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Water is best, but if it's hard to get your children to drink water, encourage them to drink juices or eat frozen ice pops. Adults and children should also get enough rest. Don't be concerned with treating a fever just because it's a fever. Often, a low-grade fever is actually helping fight off an infection. In addition, follow these guidelines for both children and adults:

    For temperatures less than 38.8 C

    Don't give any medication for a fever in this range unless advised by your doctor. And don't give children aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. Instead, wear comfortable, light clothing and try bathing in lukewarm water. At bedtime, cover yourself or your children with just a sheet or light blanket.

    For temperatures between 38.8 C and 40 C

    Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to the label instructions or as recommended by your doctor. If you're not sure about the proper dosage, be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist. Adults may use aspirin instead. Be careful not to give too much medication. High doses or long-term use of acetaminophen may cause liver or kidney damage, and acute overdoses can be fatal. If you're not able to get your child's fever down, don't give more medication. Call your doctor instead. Side effects of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin and Advil include stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers.

    For temperatures greater than 40 C

    Give adults or children acetaminophen or ibuprofen following the manufacturer's instructions or as recommended by your doctor. Adults may use aspirin instead. If you're not sure about the dosage, check with your doctor or pharmacist. Be careful not to give too much medication.

    Acetaminophen is available in liquid, chewable and suppository forms for children, but it's often easiest to give medications in liquid form. For a small child, use a syringe with measurements on the side and a bulb on the tip. Gently squirt the medicine in the back corners of your child's mouth.

    Use a sponge bath of lukewarm water to try to bring your own or your child's temperature down. Recheck the temperature every 30 minutes. When it's less than 38.8 C, you can stop sponging. If your child shivers in the bath, stop the bath, dry your child and wait. Shivering actually raises the body's internal temperature — shaking muscles generates heat. If the fever doesn't moderate or your child has a febrile seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, seek immediate medical care.

    Taking a temperature

    To check your or your child's temperature level, you can choose from several types of thermometers, including electronic thermometers and ear (tympanic) thermometers. Thermometers with digital readouts and those that take the temperature quickly from the ear canal are especially useful for young children and older adults. Because glass mercury thermometers harm both humans and the environment, they're being phased out and are no longer recommended.

    Although it's not the most accurate way to take a temperature, you can also use an oral thermometer for an armpit (axillary) reading. Place the thermometer in the armpit with arms crossed across the chest. Wait five minutes. The axillary temperature is about one degree less than an oral or rectal temperature.

    Use a rectal thermometer for infants. Place a dab of petroleum jelly on the bulb. Lay your baby on his or her tummy. Carefully insert the bulb one-half inch to 1 inch into your baby's rectum. Hold the bulb and your baby still for three minutes. Don't let go of the thermometer while it's inside your baby. If your baby squirms, it could go deeper and cause an injury.  

    Dengue Fever

    Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called break-bone fever because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking, hence the name. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years.

    Dengue fever is found mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and subtropical areas of

    • Africa
    • Southeast Asia and China
    • India
    • Middle East
    • Caribbean and Central and South America
    • Australia and the South and Central Pacific

    An epidemic in Hawaii in 2001 is a reminder that many states in the United States are susceptible to dengue epidemics because they harbor the particular types of mosquitoes that transmit it.

    The World Health Organization estimates 50 to 100 million cases of dengue infection occur each year. This includes 100 to 200 cases reported annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mostly in people who have recently traveled abroad. Many more cases likely go unreported because some doctors do not recognize the disease.

    During the last part of the 20th century, cases of dengue began increasing in many tropical regions of the world. Epidemics also began occurring more frequently and with more severity. In addition to typical dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome also have increased in many parts of the world.

    Malaria > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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