Acute febrile illness is the medical term used to describe a sudden fever or elevation of body temperature. The causes include a simple self-limiting viral fever that causes fever for a few days and improves with simple treatment. However, there are many causes of fevers that may not have a good outcome and may require hospitalization.
What are the other symptoms of acute febrile illness?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Acute onset of fever accompanied by headache, chills or muscle or joint pains is common in tropical countries like India. Some patients may have additional symptoms like skin rash, vomiting or loose stools.
What are the common causes of acute febrile illness?
- Viral fevers, malaria, dengue, hepatitis, typhoid, scrub typhus, leptospirosis are the main causes of acute febrile illness in adults in India. Certain chronic infections and diseases may present with an acute febrile illness like symptoms. These conditions are tuberculosis, malignancy and collagen vascular disease.
How should these cases be managed at home?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Rest to the patient, plenty of oral fluids to prevent dehydration and sponging with ordinary tap water at room temperature should be done. Paracetamol is the only drug to be given to reduce the temperature. Nimesulide, Aspirin, Combiflam, Dynapar, Voveron and other drugs available across the counter should be avoided as they do more harm than good. They are indicated for other disorders.
- Who are the high-risk patients with acute febrile illness and are more vulnerable to complications? Individuals who are very young or elderly, those who are obese or underweight, those with underlying diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, severe hypertension and those on long term steroids and immunosuppressive drugs after transplants or with arthritis. Those who have travelled from North and Western India prior to their illness deserve special attention.
When should you approach the doctor?
- Almost all individuals with acute febrile illness should seek medical attention as certain cases may require hospitalisation and prompt investigations.
What tests are required in patients?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Complete blood count, urine analysis are basic tests. Specific tests for dengue, swine flu, malaria and typhoid may be necessary. Special attention to platelet count is necessary. All these tests have their limitations and certain tests may be required to be repeated. Xray of the chest for viral or community-acquired pneumonia may be required.
Which form of illness may require special attention?
- Those with vomiting, loose stools, rash, severe headache, severe exhaustion, low blood pressure, persistent and continuing high-grade fever in spite of basic treatment require hospitalisation. Those with low platelets, confusional state and low urine output also require special attention.
What are the common causes of fevers in farmers?
- Those staying in rural India have a high incidence of malaria and scrub typhus. In those who have backaches and fever, Brucellosis should be ruled out.
Which antibiotics should be given in acute febrile illness?
- Do not pressurise your doctor to give you antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work for usual viruses. They cause more harm than benefits. Unless a specific bacterial illness is evident clinically, antibiotics should not be started in most. Although there are exceptions.
Which are the common diseases causing fever prevalent in September and October?
- Viral fever causing throat infection, dengue fever, swine flu, falciparum malaria and fever preceding jaundice is common in these months.
Acute febrile illnesses are taking a heavy toll of the population. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are necessary. The public and private medical support system are falling short of expectations due to the enormous number of cases. Keeping your environment clean, maintaining basics of personal hygiene like frequent hand washing, using masks and gloves, avoiding crowded places, isolating certain individuals and vaccination can control this huge health problem.
Author: Dr Jay Deshmukh
Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.