My 13-month-old daughter had a temperature of 34.5 Celsius one Friday night. She was irritable, had a runny nose, but seemed otherwise healthy. We bundled her up and kept a warm hat on her all night. The next morning, her temperature was 36.5 . And yes - the thermometer functions properly. She has remained "colder" than normal for the last few days, even though her room is warm, and she is warmly dressed. What causes abnormally low temperature in small children? What is considered an abnormally low temperature for children of this age and what should be done about it? - A.D., Jerusalem
Prof. David Branski, chairman of the pediatrics division at both Hadassah University Medical Centers in Jerusalem, comments:
This is an abnormally low temperature, and since your daughter had symptoms such as irritability, it seems she was sick. She should be checked first for an infectious etiology that causes low temperature. In such circumstances, you should raise her temperature above 36 with warm clothing and keep room temperature at about 22 or 23 .
Low temperature may indicate more serious infection than elevated temperature. Other causes may include endocrinologic disorders such as hypothyroidism and hypoadrenalism. However, if she is otherwise healthy, well developed and nourished, it is very unlikely that she has an endocrine disorder. In any case, in most children a low temperature is technical, namely dysfunction of the thermometer or low external temperature.
My 14-year-old daughter goes to bed late and sleeps only about six hours. My husband says that her frequent nosebleeds are due to her lack of sleep. Is this true? - M.A. Istanbul, Turkey
Prof. Peretz Lavie, senior sleep medicine expert at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's sleep lab in Haifa, comments:
No, there is no relationship between bleeding from the nose and short sleep. However sleeping only six hours at the age of 14 is not enough! You should consult a knowledgeable physician on how to deal with it.
I understand that there seems to be a link between the birth control pill and breast cancer. Have there been second-generation studies on the effects of the pill on fertility? With rising infertility rates, I wonder if there might be a correlation. - E.G., Jerusalem
Prof. Amnon Brzezinski, senior gynecologist and director of the Women's Health Center at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, answers:
The link between the birth control pill and breast cancer is complex and uncertain. There are indications that prolonged use of it before full-term pregnancy may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. However, it is well established that its prolonged use significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. As to fertility, there are no data to support any causative relationship between the pill and infertility. The only well-known fact is after discontinuation of the pills, the resumption of ovulation might be postponed by up to three months.
I am in my mid-40s and have had pain off and on in my left eye for several months. I don't suffer from headaches. Both an ophthalmologist and a neurologist checked me out and said that everything is fine. On the one hand I am happy that everything is fine, but on the other hand I keep thinking that the pain has to mean something. Can it really be nothing? - M.N., Jerusalem
Prof. Anat Loewenstein, chief of ophthalmology at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, replies:
If you have been examined by an ophthalmologist and neurologist and nothing was found, it is probably nothing serious. In any event, if the pain persists I would recommend to be reexamined. It is probably nothing, but it may be an intraocular non-infectious inflammation. In any case, this would have to be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, the Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to email@example.com, giving your initials, age and residence.