ELECTION FEVER, TODAY’S FEVER & OTHER FEVERS
The dust has almost settled in the USA after their historic election that scored many firsts. I choose to say no more lest I am misquoted again so let me dwell on where my vote counts. 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.
These days people who had never held a thermometer in their hands suddenly hold the mandate to give you access into a facility or not. Sometimes they obviously have no idea what they are doing but COVID-19 has made it necessary that screening may include temperature checking to determine if one has a fever. Fever is one of the first symptoms/signs that heralded the new era of COVID.
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 neither did it just explode unto the scene unannounced, 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 is extremely high 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 forehead and the temperatures vary slightly at each point.
CAUSES OF FEVER
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 the 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:
- Viruses such as those causing the common cold or bacteria causing throat, ear infections and diarrhoea. Malaria and HIV are also culprits. You do not need any prompting to remember that the novel corona virus may also cause a fever.
- 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.
- Trauma or Injury
- Heart attack, stroke and burns fall into this broad category
- 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.
HEAD FOR THE HOSPITAL
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.
In this day if you have a fever with a headache and cough and any of the other symptoms that may point to COVID-19, do stay at home and seek the necessary assistance first by telephone. If that is not available to you then go to the nearest health facility.
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).
- Drink plenty of fluids, it will control the associated risk of dehydration
- Rest – this will help you recover while the reduced physical activity also reduces the chance of increasing your temperature further
- Stay cool by dressing in light clothing and avoid hot areas
- Soak yourself in lukewarm water. This reduces the fever. Using cold water could cause shivering raising your temperature even higher.
- 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.
- Do not forget the other Ws; Wear your mask and Watch your distance (physical distancing) wherever you go especially as you go to cast your vote.
Remember no matter how high your election fever may be, only PEACE can ensure good health and development.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/Mobissel/St. Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Essel is a Medical Doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise.
Thought for the week –“fever persisting for more than three days may need a health professional’s care. Do not assume it is malaria.”
Note that ELECTION CAMPAIGNS & VOTING; NOT AN EXCUSE TO ABANDON COVID-19 PROTOCOLS
- What is fever? By Peter Crosta for Medical News Today