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How does your temperature go up?

This in turn starts a series of reactions causing the hypothalamus to bump up the body's thermostat setting and allow your temperature to rise. I am not a motor vehicle mechanic, but I know somewhere attached inside the car engine, there is also a thermostat, that controls or regulates the temperature of the engine.

The Bongoland ill trained motor vehicle mechanics, in the open garages have been advising the poor owners of the cars especially those bought from abroad to remove the cars thermostats.  Imagine if your hypothalamus (thermostat) is removed from your brain, how would you control your body temperature?

Fever is an abnormally high body temperature in response to infection, injury, or inflammation, fever is not a disease.
It is a symptom, and in many cases a beneficial one. A slightly elevated body temperature enhances the work of your natural defence mechanisms, especially the action of antibodies and white blood cells.

So a fever is your ally -- it is cutting off bodily processes that would otherwise feed invading bugs and help them to reproduce.
Body temperatures vary, and temperatures elevation up to 100.3 F (about 38 C) can be normal in healthy children. Therefore, minor temperature elevations that do not distress a child do not require medical attention.

Temperatures of 100.4 F and higher are considered abnormal and generally deserve attention, particularly in infants younger than 3 months. In infants younger than 3 months of age who have a fever, doctors may order blood    for malaria parasites, other infections, urine tests and perform a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to look for hidden bacteria in the blood for meningitis.

The reason for these tests is that in infants, the source of fever is difficult to determine. They are also at risk of serious infection compared with older children because of their immature system. Any number of things can trigger a fever. The commonest cause of fever in our set up is malaria in children under five and adults especially the pregnant mothers; however other adults and children above five years are not spared.

Commonest bacterial infections are caused by Salmonella (organisms causing typhoid) Shigella (causing diarrhoea) and so many others. Fever may be a side effect of certain medications. It can even be the result of stress -- the flush some people feel, for example, before giving a speech in front of a large group.

While stress induced fever has not been extensively studied, animal research indicates that it is similar to fever brought on by infection, in which levels of fever-registering hormones rise and cause the body's thermostat to be set higher temporarily.
No one knows why it happens -- it may be some primitive protective function kicking in -- but it is not something that needs to be treated and it is not something you should worry about.

The most frequently cited body temperature is 37  C (98.6 F), but some people have a slightly higher normal temperature than that. Also keep in mind that men tend to have a slightly lower normal temperature than women and that body temperatures tend to rise as the day goes on.

However, in adults with an average normal body temperature doctors generally consider a temperature more than 38 C (100 F) to be a fever. Taking drugs to lower temperature may be beneficial in some instances where there are accompanying symptoms like chills, headaches and feelings of being unwell. It is important to take enough water when you have fever, drink juice or broth, since a fever will tend to dehydrate you.

When temperature gets significantly high, for example 40 C, then there may be a damage to the brain if it is meningitis accompanied with convulsions and if blood tests and other investigations are done to exclude cerebral malaria. The best known way to lower the heat is also one of the fastest -- taking an aspirin. One may take any of its fellow pain relievers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Do not use aspirin if you have history of gastric ulcers and if you are an asthmatic. Aspirin is contraindicated to children. Children should never be given aspirin because of the danger of Reye's syndrome, a serious neurological condition.  Use paracetamol to lower temperature. If no improvement on the home or over the counter medication, please consult your doctor for further treatment. Plenty of rest is also advisable to someone with fever. A fan may assist to lower your temperature.

One can try to stay more comfortable by taking lukewarm soak in the bath to make you feel cooler. One can stay under a blanket to control chills. Do not overdo either, however. A cold bath will only make your body struggle to maintain its elevated temperature, and piling on the blankets can lead to overheating.


AS  the  October  general elections  draw  ...

Author: Dr Ali A. Mzige

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