Just last week, we were at the clinic to get our 9-month-old baby immunized against measles. It is one of the many immunizations babies and toddlers are subjected to in order to prop up their immune systems against future infections.
On getting to the clinic, a normal routine of checking the weight, vitals, and body temperature of the baby was observed. Everything went well until his temperature was checked and it was found that it was above normal. While normal body temperature is known to be 36.5 to 37 degrees Celcius, his was about 38.
We were told that there is no way anyone will get immunized against measles with fever in their body as this could jeopardize their health. Hence, we were advised to see a doctor at the general outpatient unit of the clinic. What we thought would be a simple immunization was already getting complex. I started canceling the day's appointment one after the other.
We got to the outpatient unit and the baby's vital statistics were taken again and the temperature was found to be the same as earlier. We were booked for an appointment after paying the necessary fee. After waiting for about 30 to 45 minutes, it got to our turn and we quickly entered the consultation room.
The doctor asked what the problem was and we explained how what brought us originally to the clinic was immunization and how we ended up in the outpatient unit. The baby never had any fever before leaving the house and neither did he the days before. Other relevant questions were asked and notes were taken based on our responses. Of importance, though, is the fact that he has been stooling more frequently than usual in what seems like mild diarrhea.
The doctor wrote something on a laboratory form and handed it over to us. On it, two tests were written to be carried out in the laboratory - malarial parasite and complete blood count tests. We headed to the laboratory and handed the attendant the form, she wrote the costs for the test on the form and asked to go and pay before anything could be done. The tests amounted to $8, approximately.
After payment, a blood sample was collected in a pediatric bullet tube by dermal puncture method (after disagreeing with the needle stick method). We were told to come back about 2 hours after for the results. To cut the long story short, results revealed the presence of a low level of malarial parasite in the blood while the complete blood count raised no alarm. Antimalarial and antibiotic drugs were prescribed and we left the clinic thereafter.
It is not a teething issue
The process of bringing out teeth starts as early as 3 months old in some babies and lasts as long as 24 months.
To an average layman around here, my 9 months old is suffering from teething problems. It is erroneously believed that teething is the number one cause of diarrhea in babies but research has long shown that this is largely untrue. While the eruption of teeth from gums can be painful to babies and elicit symptoms of fever, diarrhea is caused by pathogenic microbes.
In a developing country like Nigeria where a large percentage of the population lives below the poverty level, the environments where babies grow up are not those that can be described as sanitary enough. The eruption of teeth can cause a host of discomforts, including the itching of gums. Hence, babies put all sorts of objects they can lay their hands on in their mouth with the aim of using them to soothe their itchy gums.
The environment is filled with microbes, many of which are pathogenic. Thus, allowing babies to put objects and their fingers into their mouths often leads to different forms of infections, including diarrhea. This leads to the misconception that teething causes diarrhea in babies.
There are a couple of technological innovations targeted at making the teething process easier for babies. Prominent among these are teethers - objects meant to be inserted in babies out and can be chewed on to relieve itchy gums. Fevers and pains due to teething eruptions can be taken care of by mild analgesics. Oftentimes, babies can benefit from mild sedatives if the discomforts from the teething process make them unable to have a sound sleep.
All these drugs are often formulated into a single mixture and then sold as a one-stop solution to teething problems in babies by profit-seeking pharma industries. All in all, not all babies will experience teething problems as some just pass through it with minimal symptoms.
What are your experiences with teething in babies? Feel free to share below.
Thank you all for reading.