Health News of Thursday, 15 November 2012

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Election Fever & Other Fevers

The dust has settled in the USA after the elections that ensured that President B. Obama has another four years to consolidate the gains of his era and hopefully make the country a better one. Now, the eyes of the whole world is focused on a much smaller country on the coast of West Africa, a country that has a great potential to be a super-power in its own right, a country that is a haven of peace in a chaotic region. Ghana continues to baffle the world with our own rendition of democracy and despite all the hue and cry before elections we always stand out tall after the exercise. There is anxiety, expectation and mixed emotions as we approach Election Day. I can bet on my last Ghana pesewa that some people have developed diarrhoea that does not seem to resolve with medication, others have known no sleep for weeks and a few others jump out of bed daily with a galloping heart and drenched in sweat. This is election fever and I doubt the thermometer will be of any help when it comes to this type of fever.
There is the other fever that is extremely common and “lives” with us all year round. This fever does not occur once every four years instead it is one of the commonest complaints that healthcare professionals are faced with daily. Let me make one point crystal clear; fever is NOT a synonym for malaria and neither are all fevers due to malaria even if you live in a malaria endemic area like ours.
A fever also referred to as pyrexia means the body temperature is above the normal of 37 degrees Celsius. It is a warning that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. Though fever in an adult may be uncomfortable, it is usually not dangerous unless it reaches 34.9 degrees Celsius or higher but for young children and infants, a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a serious condition. In newborns and elderly, temperatures below normal should also be of concern.
Our temperature may vary due to our clothing, menstrual cycle, meals, level of activity and time of day, being lowest in the morning. Some of us may find that we are often slightly warmer than others. The degree of fever does not indicate the seriousness of the underlying condition. Sometimes a serious illness may cause a low fever whereas a condition of no significance may cause a high fever. This point has a lot in common with election fever where some people who appear most excited and do all the shouting may not even be registered voters.
Remember that you may take your temperature in different parts of your body such as your armpit, mouth, ears, anus and vagina and the temperatures vary slightly at each point.
You may be gripped by election fever for different reasons; some people love the power, others a desire to be on the winning team, a few have a genuine interest to help country and hopefully the majority of people suffering from election fever want to see a change for the better. In the same vein “medical” fever may be caused by many conditions including:
1. Infections
a. Viruses such as those causing the common cold or bacteria causing throat, ear infections and diarrhoea. Malaria and HIV are also culprits.
2. Medication
a. Antibiotics, blood pressure medications and drugs for treating seizures are examples. These may cause “drug fever” due to adverse reactions, withdrawal or by the drug’s design.
3. Trauma or Injury
a. Heart attack, stroke and burns fall into this broad category
4. Immunization
5. Others
a. Gout, osteoarthritis (wear and tear disease), thyroid disease and certain cancers.
Fever may be associated with sweating, shivering, headache, muscle aches and when the fever is extremely high one may develop hallucinations, confusion, convulsion and dehydration.
If a baby has a temperature of 38.3 degrees Celsius or above, refuses food and drinks, is irritable and unresponsive you have no business staying at home.
An adult with a fever associated with severe headache, stiff painful neck, confusion, unusual sensitivity to light should be talking to a healthcare professional.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your fever, examine you, probably request for some tests and then give you medication if required.
Sometimes your fever may last for more than 3 weeks and your doctor may not be able to determine the cause after extensive evaluation. This condition is referred to as pyrexia or fever of unknown origin (PUO).
1. Drink plenty of fluids, it will control the associated risk of dehydration
2. Rest – this will help you recover while the reduced physical activity also reduces the chance of increasing your temperature further
3. Stay cool by dressing in light clothing and avoid hot areas
4. Soak yourself in lukewarm water. This reduces the fever. Using cold water could cause shivering raising your temperature even higher.
5. Reduce incidence of fever ; by living a healthy lifestyle, keeping your surroundings clean and washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water (often), you will reduce the incidence of contracting some of the common causes of fever.
Remember no matter how high your election fever may be, only PEACE can ensure good health and development.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week –“fever persisting for more than three days may need a health professional’s care. Do not assume it is malaria.”
2. What is fever? By Peter Crosta for Medical News Today