Most Rwandans refer to malaria as fever. When one is suffering from malaria they instead say they are suffering from fever, or mfite umuriro in Kinyarwanda.
Whereas Malaria is an acute chronic infectious disease caused by parasites and spreads through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, fever is a rise in our body's normal temperature, which, on average, is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37degrees centigrade.
Fever is therefore part of our body's defense mechanism. When our bodies are fighting infections, then our body temperature rises.
Fever is a symptom of almost every disease known to man. Illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria attack our bodies and make us sick. Without our protection system to fight off these infections, we could die.
Say for example, apart from malaria, colds, tonsillitis (inflammation of tonsils), otitis media (infection of the middle ear), the flu, bronchitis, tetanus, measles, mumps, chicken pox, AIDS, pneumonia, all the examples of bacterial and viral infections cause fever.
Temperature is usually measured in the mouth by a thermometer being held under the tongue for 5 to 8 minutes.
However other ways to measure body temperatures include rectally, axillary (armpit), and using a special temperature taking device in the ear.
Let me say that fever is a good thing or does that sound like an odd statement?
Not at all because fever is our body's natural response to fighting germs. Symptoms of a fever include chills, aching or pain everywhere, listlessness, elevated body temperature on the thermometer, red cheeks, and feeling hot or cold, and shaking.
The body basically shakes and has chills when the fever is rising, especially rapidly and sweats when the fever is dropping, or breaking, as some say.
The cause of the fever is quite a complicated process. Our blood and lymphatic systems produce white blood cells which fight off infection.
As our white blood cells increase in number, like an army to fight the germs, they go faster and faster attacking the germs, this causes our bodies to heat up, thus causing rise in body temperature.
So, in effect, we can say that the fever is what is fighting the infection. That is why it is not good to try to bring down a fever too much or too fast.
A temperature of 100 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit is good for the body because it shows that the body is fighting the infection.
However, if a fever goes too high, measures must be taken to bring the fever down a bit. Antipyretics are medications that lower fever, such as the common known paracetamol, aspirin and so on.
When a fever is 104 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit this is very high. Above 105 degrees, damage can occur in the nervous system. Also, seizures or convulsions can occur above 102 degrees in some people, usually children. When you have a fever, even though the fever is working to help you, it still makes you feel unpleasant.
Some comfort measures for someone with a fever include fever-reducing medications, cool wet rag on the head, cover in light blanket (heavy blankets actually trap the heat), avoid taking hot baths, this will only increase your temperature, drink plenty of fluids, especially clear cool liquids such as water and fruit juice to prevent lack of fluids, if the fever is high, you may give a light sponge bath using tepid water only, not cool or cold water, and no alcohol!
Keep the person covered with a towel as not to get a chill. An infant or small child with a high fever can loose fluids in their body very quickly, especially if they are losing fluids some other way, as well, such as diarrhea or vomiting. If they are not vomiting, give them as much liquid as they can tolerate to prevent lack of fluids.
There are specially formulated liquids on the market for replacing the body fluids and maintaining electrolyte balance.
This is an attempt to prevent dehydration of which the signs and symptoms are dry skin, decreased urination, loose skin (meaning it is loose and not tight as is supposed to be), and listlessness (even when the fever goes down).