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High fever, prolonged diarrhoea not typical symptoms of teething

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High fever, prolonged diarrhoea not typical symptoms of teething


High body temperature or fever as well as other potentially serious symptoms, such as prolonged bouts of diarrhea in infants, should not be written off as normal signs of teething by mothers. Experts warn that fever, diarrhea and other signs and symptoms are not typical of teething but problems that may need medical attention, reports Sade Oguntola.

Many things have been attributed to teething: high body temperature, rashes, crying, bad temper, runny noses, boils and diarrhea, etc. However, none of these can be proven, particularly as so many other things that might influence behaviour are happening in the child’s life at the same time.

Although, many mothers have written off such signs as high fevers and bouts of diarrhea in infants as normal signs of teething, several studies have failed to connect teething to these severe signs and symptoms.

Teething is the normal process of an infant’s primary teeth working their way through the gums. Generally, babies will begin teething around the four-month mark, cutting the first two primary teeth on the bottom. In the following two months, the top four teeth will begin to emerge, with most children having all of their teeth by the age of three.

But the way a child responds to cutting a tooth varies on an individual basis. Some symptoms are slightly more common than others, but a combination of potential symptoms can vary greatly. Often, many infants experience increased crying and fussiness just prior to a tooth breaking through the gum line as well as diarrhea, drooling and diaper rash.

Although fever is frequently lumped in as a symptom of teething, experts indicated in a study published in the journal “Pediatrics” that while a slight rise in body temperature may occur, a temperature outside the normal range is not a normal part of teething.

The study, which followed 47 infants between the ages of five and 15 months over eight months, found that teething typically caused fairly mild problems — including irritability, drooling, a day or so of diarrhea and poor sleep. But it was not linked to any serious symptoms, like high fevers or prolonged bouts of diarrhea.

Contrary to what many mothers believe, they stated that high-grade temperatures are not a direct result of cutting a tooth and as such it is important for parents to seek treatment for their infants if they have a high temperature; regardless if they are teething or not. According to them, it may be related to something else, and that needs to be investigated.

Although historically, many parents have thought that teething commonly causes fevers, vomiting and other potentially serious symptoms, Dr Olusola Onadeko, a consultant paediatrician, Adeoyo Maternity Teaching Hospital, Yemetu, Ibadan, Oyo State, stated that there was really nothing called teething in medical books.

According to her, that a child is bringing out tooth is a normal phenomenon, which might only make the baby more fussy, a little irritable, drooling, experience a slight increase in temperature or has poor appetite on the day a tooth emerged, or the day after.

However, “some other signs and symptoms people attribute to teething such as high fevers, rashes, boils, runny nose or blocked nose or prolonged bouts of diarrhea are those of other problems that have nothing to do with teeth erupting. They are symptoms that should make the mother to seek medical help rather than assume it is due to teething.”

According to Dr Onadeko, “even if the baby’s body temperature is raised, it is slight and it does not last for long. But when the body temperature is high and it is associated with other signs such as diarrhea, the mother needs to take such a child to the hospital.”

Certainly, myths and misconceptions about fever still abound. The fact is that fever does not necessarily need to be treated. For example: if a child is playful, comfortable, able to sleep, and drinking plenty of fluids, then medical treatment is not likely to be needed. On the other hand, steps should be taken to decrease fever in a child who is uncomfortable, dehydrated, vomiting, of having difficulty sleeping.

Fever is not an illness. Rather, “it is a symptom of an ongoing problem. There are several things that can cause fever, particularly in the newborn such as stress and infection,” stated Dr Orimadegun, a consultant paediatrician at the Institute of Child Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State.

According to him, “in children less than a year old, when there is fever or high body temperature, it is better to assume that there is a problem rather than assume that there is no problem and ignore it. In fact, the problem may actually end up becoming serious than is thought. So, all cases of fever need to be taken seriously.”

Dr Orimadegun declared: “As paediatricians, we often do not ignore the fear or concern of mothers about fever because studies have shown that when a mother says this child has fever, more often than not, she is right. In as much as eight out of every 10 cases, they are correct.”

“Usually, when the body temperature is above 38 degrees centigrade, it could cause damages to certain organs in the body.  For instance, this can cause convulsion and when a child has convulsion, especially when it occurs many times within a day, it could cause some degree of damage to the brain. But we encourage parents to give fever-lowering drugs when the fever is high,” he stated.

“There are many things a mother needs to take note of when a child has fever. Fever is a symptom of a problem and even when the mother has given a fever-lowering drug, this had only taken care of the symptom, leaving the cause of the raised body temperature,” Dr Orimadegun stated.

“Also, when a child has high body temperature, it is not the time to cover up because they say the child has cold. Keeping the child covered or having the child wear cardigan will further increase the body temperature. Rather, such a child should be bath or sponged with tepid water,” he concluded. - Nigerian news, Health & Beauty news, naija, Nigeria, West Africa

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Updated 7 Years ago

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