It’s day two, Gavin’s fever is still elevated. The doctor’s diagnosis is a viral infection due to a lack of nasal congestion and phlegm, and Gavin’s complaints about headaches and back pain. With reported outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya in the area, we were naturally concerned so we took Gavin to see the doctor. Our regular doctor was already on leave for the Chinese New Year holiday so we went to see a recommendation from a friend only to end up with the locum because their doctor wasn’t around either. Our intention was to test for dengue but the doctor explained that at this early stage, it is too soon to take a blood test.
Both dengue and chikungunya are transmitted by the Aedes mosquito but by different species. From what I’ve read, it appears dengue is the more severe of the two with potentially more serious effects. There are some common signs and symptoms which leads to chikungunya being mistaken for dengue. Although both infections typically display a petechial rash (red, pin-point rash), mild cases of dengue can present without a rash which often leads to dengue being misdiagnosed as influenza.
At this stage, we can only wait and watch for developing symptoms and monitor Gavin’s fever to make sure it doesn’t rise too high. The symptoms to look out for with dengue in a child are vomiting, inactivity, tummy ache, appetite loss, rashes that begin on the legs and chest, nose/gum bleeds, and headaches in the forehead region. The fever should subside within four days, but if it persists, we were recommended to take Gavin to the hospital.
As fever is a body’s natural defense for fighting infections, allowing some elevation in body temperature allows the body to fight the infection. Fever only becomes dangerous if it is uncontrolled and body temperature is continually rising. The doctor we saw recommended giving paracetamol only if the fever rose above 38.5 degrees Celsius, but I recall Nurse Online in Australia told me 39 degrees Celsius and above when Gavin had the Roseola virus.
Gavin has never taken any oral form of medication well and often cries until the point of vomiting (which sort of defeats the purpose of medicating even though kids rarely throw up everything). Gavin’s godparents introduced us to this wonderful thing call paracetamol suppositories. Just in case you haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to a suppository, it is simply a tablet that is inserted through the anus. We tried it on Gavin for the first time and what a difference it makes to painful process of administering paracetamol to an infant!
For controlling the fever without medication, sponge baths or even a warm bath can make all the difference. In fact, I find a warm bath helps more than simply sponging (if you can get your child into the bathtub). When the doctor suggested sponging Gavin down to control his fever, he advised against using ice cold water. Er, duh? Then again, perhaps he felt the need to warn us because he has experienced incidences where parents have used ice? I supposed it is a little like that warning on the blade of an electric saw that says, “Don’t touch blade when device is on.” Somebody must have done it, tried to sue the company for their own idiocy which led to the company issuing warnings on all new products.
And while we’re on the topic of baths, I feel a need to add that bathing while sick is perfectly fine. If that last sentence sounds perfectly logical to you and you have no idea why I even had to write it, then it wasn’t intended for you. Let me explain. I was raised with this belief that if you were sick with a fever, you shouldn’t take a bath (or shower, for that matter). I’m not exactly sure why but there seems to be a belief that you will get worse if you bathe. If I apply what I understood about water and post-natal women during the confinement month, then I suppose the idea behind it has something to do with getting “wind” into your body when you bathe.
Perhaps I shouldn’t laugh or scoff too hard because I practiced the belief of not bathing while sick for the longest time until I came down with pneumonia. In my defense, I was raised with that belief so I obviously didn’t know any better. Since I was down with pneumonia for quite a long time, the not bathing part was really starting to get to me and I’m sure I felt more miserable and “more ill” from NOT bathing. I was getting a sponge bath but you can’t really give your hair a sponge bath. Anyway, I finally asked the doctor, during one of my visits to receive a penicillin injection in my behind, if I could take a shower and he replied perfectly straightfaced that I could take as many showers as I wanted. It might have been my imagination, but I could have sworn the corners of his mouth were twitching.