If you play with fire, you often get burned. These burns can range from light singes to serious ones that can even threaten a person’s life.
Most of the time, people just think about the outer damage that these can do. It may be wounds and some discolouration of the skin. However, one other effect that it brings about is fever.
If you aren’t quite sure why that is, don’t worry. Join us as we investigate why burn victims often get fevers as well.
What Are Burns?
Burns occur when a really hot object touches the skin. In most cases, fire is the culprit, but many other objects and phenomena can cause it as well.
When intense heat is touched by a person, then it wounds and damages the tissue on the body. This tissue damage is what constitutes a burn.
Depending on how hot the fire (or heated object) is, the burns can often range from very minor to life-threatening. Let’s check out how these varying degrees differ from one another.
The most minor one is in the first degree. This type only affects the outermost layer of a person’s skin called the epidermis. It may cause some slight pain and introduce some redness to the affected area.
Examples of this are touching a hot pan and even sunburns.
The second degree is a bit more serious, with the intensity increasing. Apart from affecting the outermost layer of a person’s skin, this degree goes deeper and also affects the second layer which is known as the dermis.
Apart from more pain, the affected area may also begin to swell and change colours to a deeper red or white. In addition, blisters may also begin to form.
Injuries from this degree will usually also leave some type of scarring or mark on a person.
One of the most common occurrences of this degree in action is when a person comes into contact with an open flame, whether for just mere seconds or longer.
The third degree is the most serious of them all. At this level, the fire goes past the epidermis and the dermis and affects the fats underneath. It brings with it all the symptoms of a burn but with a much more increased intensity.
This degree sees the skin go from normal colours to an extreme brown, white, or even black. The skin also begins to get a leathery quality to it.
The damage caused by this degree is very serious, often affecting the nerves. When this happens, it can take away any use of a body part, introducing numbness and effectively shutting it down.
When we talk about the causes of these, the most obvious one is fire and heat. The thing about temperature though is that it can be applied to various objects as well.
This means that heated objects – especially metal ones – can be dangerously hot to the touch. Similarly, liquids can also be heated to points where they can cause burns of every degree.
Other causes also come in the forms of ultraviolet radiation, chemicals like acid or paint thinner, and even electrical currents.
Why do Fevers Show Up in Burn Victims?
There are many theories on why people who are afflicted with extremely hot temperatures also get a fever.
A Metabolic Response
One study hypothesised that it was a result of the metabolic response that all victims have. Anyone who gets burned will have a reaction within their bodies. This reaction sees more energy expended within their bodies and a breaking down of body mass just to name a few.
Both of these reactions already increase a person’s body temperature. Researchers have long since thought that this increase in temperature benefits the victims. However, there is no evidence to suggest such, with all signs pointing to a negative reaction instead.
The theory here is that this increase also brings about a fever, which is also linked with more energy spent and the burning off of lean body mass.
Another common reason for fevers comes with the wounds sustained from burns. A burned wound is very susceptible to becoming infected. These infections introduce a fever into the person’s body.
Fever is actually something that helps a person experiencing an infection. During this state, the body is actively trying to stave off any bacteria or virus that is causing the infection.
While it is very common for those burned to have infections, one must avoid assuming that any fevers come from these infections only.
As ironic as it may seem, the medication people take can also lead to a fever.
Burns are very painful, especially in higher degrees. They also bring about several symptoms and conditions that need to be controlled. That is why medication is given by doctors.
The problem is that these medicines elicit a variety of effects from the body. They include things such as increased metabolism, an increase of heat released in the body, or just causing a certain response in the body.
The result then is a drug-induced fever. While it is definitely a possibility, the likelihood is also quite high.
In major burns, victims will often require blood transfusions. The burns often result in severe blood loss and a hampered production of much needed red blood cells just to name a few.
Thus, the victim will need a healthy supply of blood via transfusions.
Experiencing a fever due to these transfusions is not uncommon. It is usually brought about by white blood cells taken in from the new blood.
While not initially serious, if the fever is accompanied by chest pains or nausea, a doctor should be informed immediately.
Depending on the severity, treatment procedures and needs vary.
First Degree Treatment
In the first degree, treatment is simple. Running cool water over the burned area will usually do the trick. Take note that ice should not be used as it can only worsen the affected area.
At the same time, aloe vera can also be applied to the wound. The anti-inflammatory quality of aloe vera has can reduce any swelling that might take effect. An antibacterial cream is also recommended.
Finally, the wound needs to be wrapped in gauze. Take over the counter pain medications as necessary.
Second Degree Treatment
Treatment in the second degree is largely similar to what takes place in the first degree. Some changes are required though.
For starters, a stronger antibacterial cream is recommended. This is because infections can set in more at this degree.
At the same time, ensure that the affected part is elevated to further reduce swelling.
Third Degree Treatment
Usually, the wounds from burns at this degree will require skin grafts. The affected tissue is too far gone to treat. Instead, it must be replaced by tissue from other viable parts of the body.
In addition, victims will usually require IV drips containing fluids and other medications to stave off potential shock and dehydration.
In a Flash
Burns introduce various changes to a person’s body. Each of them brings about an increased chance of fevers to occur. It is always best to know what to expect when these types of injuries happen.
Burns often occur in a flash and when a person least expects it. Due to the dangers the various degrees present, it is always best to stay vigilant.
Since it can happen just like that, first aid must also be provided quickly. Just the act of stabilising and preparing victims for a trip to the hospital could prove invaluable.
Learn more about first aid through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.