A child who plays outdoors, suddenly gets an attack of fever after a few bouts of cough and sneezing. An adult finds his energy drained as he gets out of bed in the morning with fever and chill. A housewife has a mild accident in the kitchen and suffers from fever on the next day due to the injury.
What is fever?
It is a condition where the body temperature is above normal. Normal temperature varies in individuals, ranging somewhere between 36.90C (98.40F) or 37.50C or (99.50F)
Fever is not a disease, but the symptom of some disturbance in the functions of the body caused by the invasion of germs through air, water and food. Fever can also be caused by infection, inflammation and injury.
Antibodies, the true soldiers
Human body has an inbuilt defence mechanism aided by the antibodies (a substance capable of fighting diseases). When they are stimulated by heat, as in fever, they multiply and improve the effectiveness of the defence mechanism. Heat helps in drawing more blood to the affected area and the antibodies are carried with it. This reaction helps fight and destroy the germs. Germs thrive only under favourable conditions like lowered resistance or in a accumulated morbid waste.
When the general health and the body’s defence system are in perfect order, fever runs a mild course with minimum discomfort. But if the vitality is low and the body’s resistance is poor, more time is required to fight the disease causing germs.
Prolonged fever causes concern and forces one to take refuge is strong drugs. These drugs, no doubt, arrest fever and destroy the disease causing germs, but in the process they also destroy the antibodies, weaken the defence mechanism and leave the patient weaker than ever.
A friend, not a foe
Fever’s role in fighting disease is more beneficial than harmful as it expels the toxins created by the invading germs, inflammation or injury. The entire energy of the patient is required to aid the eliminating process and hardly any strength is left for digesting food. Only plenty of fluids aid the fever to flush out toxins effectively. Nourishment in the form of solid food deranges the already weakened digestive system. Lasy-to-digest diet in various types of fever, helps overcome fever without weakening the system even when strong antibiotics and other drugs become unavoidable.
At one time, malaria was supposed to infect only those who lived under poor sanitary conditions. But not so now. Even city dwellers who live in multistoried buildings, well guarded from filth and marshy surroundings, are prone to this epidemic. In spite of potent drugs and preventive measures, incidents of malaria are on the increase.
Malaria is caused by the bite of a certain type of anopheles mosquito, which was previously bitten a person suffering from malaria. As the mosquito bites a person, one or sometimes more than four types of parasites are introduced in the blood. There are four types of malaria affecting human beings. We need not go into details about their names but restrict ourselves with the symptoms which are more important.
The most common types of malaria are mild that come all of a sudden with chills and high fever lasting for a few hours, drenching the sufferer with sweat, after which the fever subsides. These bouts occur at the same hour every day in the first type, and every alternate day or every third day in the second type. These two types of malaria, though mild, are likely to recur.
The third type, which is a bit severe, is caused by double infection. In this the fever rises for two days at a stretch with a gap on the third day and recurs on the fourth and fifth day.
The fourth type is caused by severe infection which sometimes leads to serious complications. This is known as cerebral malaria.
Any illness with fever should always be attended to in the early stages to detect the presence of malaria. Once diagnosed as malaria, drugs become necessary. Complete rest and protection from further mosquito bites are a must.
What happens during malaria?
In malaria, the attack is sudden and intense at the onset itself. Severe body ache and extreme chill are more prominent, resulting in exhaustion of the whole body and the internal organs, especially the digestive organs affecting the appetite.
The power of digestion during the course of fever gets extremely poor. The absorption of the nutrients derived from the food is also slower than in normal health. The body needs all the energy for the absorption of the nourishment directly into the blood without having to undergo the whole process of digestion. The natural loss of appetite during fever is to caution us from placing a burden on the digestive organs by overfeeding. The diet of the patient should be planned accordingly. Specific diet as per the demand of the individual’s age and constitution will help the patient to recover with minimum discomfort.
Dietary measures are important at such times. The diet should consist mostly of fluids and all solid food must be strictly eliminated.
Treatment for malaria
Keep the bed of the patient comfortable and the room , properly ventilated.
Sponge bath to be given daily at least once. Cold compress, if the body temperature is very high, needs to be given.
- Fruit juice, especially orange juice should be given twice a day.
- Tulsi leaves are useful to fight fever and also during convalescence. When chill and shivering are present, infusion of tulsi leaves, pepper powder and a little sugar will not only be a soothing drink, but will also help bring the fever down. It should be taken sip by sip (not in gulps), when still warm, for five full minutes. This infusion should be taken at least thrice a day.
- Milk is best avoided and if it is desired, it should be diluted and a spoonful of honey added instead of sugar.
- Honey is quickly absorbed and gives instant energy. Honey added to barely water is easily digestible and gives nourishment to the body during any fever. This drink also eliminated toxic wastes effectively.
- Apples can very beneficially be given in malaria fever. It not only serves as solid food, but also helps reduce fever without weakening the body. It also prevents recurring attacks. Fruit juices and water will help expel toxins through urine and stools effectively.
Useful diet during convalescence
The appetite improves during convalescence. Barley gruel can be given. Orange juice must be continued. Lemon squeezed in sugarcane juice, is also beneficial. This type of diet will help faster recovery from an exhausted state as a result of fever.
While resuming solid food, boiled vegetables are recommended initially. Soups and whole wheat bread or rotis, apple stew and fresh apples must be included. All artificial food, processed or canned food, sweets, fatty, spicy and oily food, coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks and aerated beverages must be strictly avoided during fever and immediately after recovery. This will help build up the resistance preventing possible recurrence of attacks.
In overcrowded cities, a number of infectious diseases prevail and jaundice is one among them. Strictly speaking, jaundice is not a disease, but a group of symptoms experienced by those who are attacked by the virus, known as Hepatitis Virus, which causes inflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis is of two types, A and B. in the former, the virus is transmitted from person to person, due to poor hygiene, consumption of contaminated water and food exposed to dust insects and filth. The latter is know as Serum Hepatitis. In this the virus gets transmitted through contaminated hypodermic needles, blood transfusion, etc. There are other conditions too where jaundice occurs owing to disturbed functioning of the liver.
Liver and its functions
Liver is the most essential digestive organ in the human body. Its functions are numerous. Apart from aiding digestion, it assists other vital organs like heart and kidney in their functions. When poisons are absorbed through drugs or alcohol, the liver acts as the detoxifying agent. Metabolism of fat and energy, storage of glucose, vitamins and iron are some of its other functions. It secretes bile, the most important digestive juice.
The functions of the liver get deranged in an attack of jaundice. Loss of appetite is a warning signal to reduce the burden on the liver in its process of digestion. All the same, proper nutrition is also essential which is why a diet that can aid the elimination of the accumulated toxins and nourishes at the same time, is recommended during jaundice.
It would be educating to know why, when and how liver’s disturbed functioning results in disease. A few causes are given below:
1. Jaundice occurs as a result of chemical or drug poisoning or after an acute attack of malaria, pneumonia or even anemia. In such cases the amount of bile pigment is so great that the excess of it seeps into spaces between the tissue cells, resulting in jaundice.
2. In some liver disorders, there is an increase in the destruction of red cells in the blood and the bile pigments, instead of being utilized for digestion of fats, gets carried along the blood stream resulting in jaundice. This results in hepatitis.
3. Sometimes, where there is an obstruction in the gall bladder, like stones, the bile is prevented from entering the intestines for aiding digestion and gets absorbed in the blood and circulates all over the body. This happens also when there is a tumor of the pancreas. This type is different from other types of jaundice and is considered serious.
Hardening of the liver due to alcohol and consumption of highly fatty food also results in jaundice. Jaundice may occur due to various reasons, but in all cases the main symptoms will be skin and whites of the eye turning yellow and urine becoming dark. There may be itching of the skin, loss of appetite, fatigue and fever sometimes resembling that of other acute fevers like influenza. Diagnosis become difficult before the yellow colour of the eye and skin manifests. This condition lasts for two weeks.
Treatment for jaundice
Absolute bed-rest and nutrition are the two most vital things to be considered for complete recovery from jaundice.
Fats in any form must be strictly avoided as also coffee, tea, alcohol and heavy processed and oily substances. The diet should consist mostly of fluids, enabling the increased output of urine. Diet should provide nourishment as it cures jaundice.
To prevent the toxins from further spreading, a drink made out of sugarcane juice and white radish juice to which honey is added, should be given at least twice a day. Fresh cabbage juice with a teaspoon of honey also helps.
A teaspoon of cumin powder added to a teaspoon of tamarind pulp and one teaspoon of honey should be given.
Lemon juice in barley water and honey in boiled and cooled water must be given frequently.
One glass of tomato juice must be given at least once a day.
Carrots strengthen the liver. It can be given in the form of juice, soup or infusion.
Soup made out of bottle gourd (louki0 is also recommended in jaundice.
After two or three days of liquid diet, bland solid diet can be added.
Dried anwla powder is soft rice, beetroot juice with lemon juice, pulp of guava after straining added to diluted skimmed milk and honey, and boiled vegetables like louki can be given to strengthen liver function.
Louki roasted in fire (like brinjal) and the juice extracted to which candy sugar is added can be given to strengthen liver.
An infusion of ginger and curry leaves must be given regularly for some days at bedtime. Slowly whole wheat bread can be included in the diet. This type of diet will prevent further attacks of jaundice.
Complete rest and lot of fresh air during convalescence, is necessary for speedy recovery. Though the symptoms subside, diet must continue to be bland for a few more days.