The normal body temperature is around 98.2 to 98.8 F. A person is said to be suffering from fever when the body temperature rises to 100.0 F by mouth or 100.8 F rectum. Body temperature is at its lowest early in the morning. Women notice an increase of about 0.9 F (0.6 C) in body temperature during ovulation. Exercise and physical activity in hot weather can also raise body temperature. Fever is usually the body's reaction to an infection, be it urinary infection, viral infection or pneumonia. It is an indication that your body is fighting and working for you. But fever can also be indicative of a serious illness, especially in adults. Infants and children may develop fever as a reaction to vaccinations or immunization shots.
Elevated body temperature (fever) brings along with it overall physical discomfort such as body ache, shivering, headache and reduced appetite. Fever must not be allowed to rise more than 103 degree F or greater as it causes dehydration. Besides sudden rise in body temperature can bring on febrile seizures. This is especially so in the case of infants and small children. Febrile Seizures or convulsions tend to appear in the first 24 hours of fever. It is a reactive activity by the body till it adjusts to sudden rise in temperature.
Fever in Infants
Fever in infants can be quite be quite alarming to parents. When an infant is running temperature, it is most likely a reaction to the body's defense against infection. Most often it is an ally of the body - responding to a viral or bacterial infection. However in rare cases, the fever can also be the harbinger of middle ear infection or urinary infection or even gastro-enteritis. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia, croup or strep throat can also bring on fever in infants. Fever in infants is also generally accompanied by symptoms such as flushed cheeks, rapid breathing and vomiting. The infant might be irritable and restless. In some cases, an infant can have raised body temperature due to overdressing. It is essential to remember that infants cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Infants are likely to have mild fever due to immunization shots.
If the temperature exceeds 37 C, an infant is considered to have fever. High fever in infants is not alarming but needs to be tackled immediately. If the infant is unable to move and seems weak and listless, consult a physician at once. Keep on the lookout for purple spots on the body or fullness on the soft spot on the head. Symptoms such as swollen joints and rash must also be brought to the pediatrician's notice at once. Body temperature in an infant can be checked either in the armpit or rectum. Digital thermometer can be used to accurately read elevated body temperature. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not advocate the use of ear thermometers in infants less than 3 months. Similarly glass mercury thermometers are avoided on account of possible mercury toxicity. Avoid plastic strip thermometers and pacifier thermometers since they are unlikely to be accurate.
Since most of the time fever in infants is self-limiting, do not medicate the infant yourself. Usually Paracetamol is prescribed for infants suffering from fever. Do not give aspirin to the infant, especially when there is a likelihood of a viral infection. Ensure that the baby is well hydrated. Breast milk must be offered frequently. Diluted formula can also be given. Tepid water sponge bath helps in lowering body temperature. Dress the infant in light clothing. Care should be taken not to allow the body temperature to rise rapidly as it can bring on febrile seizures.
Seizures are conditions when there is abnormal functioning of the brain leading to uncontrollable muscle spasms, altered levels of consciousness and behavior. This is usually traced to abnormal electrical discharge within the brain. Seizures may be localized or affect the whole body. Seizures are classified into 3 based on the severity of attack and response:
Seizures can occur due to poisoning, drug overdose, head injury or medical conditions such as hypoglycemia or neurological abnormality. Fever, brain tumor or other vascular problems can also trigger a seizure. If the brain experiences a sudden lack of oxygen, it can lead to a seizure. Febrile seizures are usually noticed when an infant or small child has high fever, greater than 102 degrees F. The child loses consciousness and experiences uncontrolled shaking of the body. Typically this seizure lasts for a minute or two. Seizures of this kind are not to be mistaken for epilepsy. Though they can be terrifying, febrile seizure attacks must be tackled with care. Place the child on the ground or safe place. Do not restrain movements and wait for the seizure to subside. Do not attempt to feed the child immediately after a febrile seizure. Most seizures are self-limiting. What is essential is to ensure that the person does not get injured during a seizure. Seek seizure first aid. Call a doctor at once if you notice labored breathing or bluish pallor. Epilepsy is a medical condition that is characterized by marked pattern of chronic seizures. Various tests such as spinal tap, heat CT scan or MRI and EEG (Electroencephalogram) can help in identifying the cause for the seizures.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 17, 2019