Fever : Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments | Comprehensive Guide617
A fever is characterized by a sudden rise in body temperature. It is a portion of the immune system's whole reaction. Infections frequently result in fever.
Most children and adults find having a fever uncomfortable. However, it often is not a reason for alarm. However, in newborns, even a modest temperature might indicate a dangerous illness.
The fever usually goes away after a few days. Fever is decreased by several over-the-counter medications. If a fever is not unpleasant, it should not be treated.
The average body temperature is a function of the balance between heat production and heat loss. This equilibrium is kept in check by the hypothalamus, a region of the brain also referred to as your body's "thermostat". Your body temperature swings a little bit during the day even if you are healthy. It can be lower in the morning and higher in the late afternoon and evening.
The hypothalamus has the ability to raise body temperature in response to sickness. As a result, complicated processes are started, boosting heat generation and decreasing heat loss. One way the body produces heat is via shivering, which you could experience. When you wrap up in a blanket because you are cold, you are helping your body retain heat.
Fever under 104 F (40 C) linked to typical viral illnesses such as the flu, is often not harmful and may even aid the immune system in fighting illness.
Fever or an elevated body temperature might be caused by:
- Viral contamination
- An infection with bacteria
- A heat stroke
- An instance of an inflammatory condition is rheumatoid arthritis, which makes the lining of your joints swell (synovium)
- A malignant (cancerous) growth
- Many drugs, such as those for high blood pressure, seizures, and antibiotics
- Some vaccinations, such as the pneumococcal or COVID vaccine, diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP),
How to check if you have a Fever?
In and of itself, a fever might not be a cause for alarm or a visit to the doctor. There are, however, some circumstances in which you should seek medical attention for yourself, your child, or your new baby.
Toddlers and babies
Particularly in newborns and young children, a fever is a cause for concern. If your child is:
- Less than three months old and with a rectal fever of at least 100.4 F (38 C).
- Between the ages of 3 and 6 months, with a rectal fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or with a lower temperature but seeming strangely cranky, lethargic, or uncomfortable.
- Between the ages of 7 and 24 months, with a persistent rectal fever greater than 102 F (38.9 C).
- More than a day, but exhibits no more symptoms. You can contact them sooner if your child also exhibits additional symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, or diarrhea.
If your child develops a temperature but is still alert, there is generally nothing to worry about. This shows that your child responds to your speech and facial expressions while also seeing you in the eye. Additionally, it's possible that your child is both playing and drinking.
If your child experiences any of the following:
- Have poor eye contact with you, are confused, or appear listless.
- Are agitated, frequently throw up, suffer from a terrible headache, sore throat, stomachache, or other symptoms that are quite uncomfortable.
- If you get a fever after being left in a warm car, seek emergency medical attention.
- A fever that lasts longer than three days.
- Has a fever and a seizure together. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes or your child does not get better right away, contact medical assistance.
- In unique situations, such as a child with immune system issues or who has a prior sickness, ask your child's doctor for advice.
The moment your fever reaches 103 F (39.4 C) or above, you should call a medical expert. If any of these warning signs or symptoms appear together with a fever, get help right away from a doctor:
- Terrible headache
- Unusual sensitivity to bright light
- Having trouble and being stiff when bending your neck forward
- Perplexity in the mind, odd conduct, or changed speech
- Continual vomiting
- Breathing issues or chest discomfort
- Continent pain
- Difficulty urinating
Body temperatures vary somewhat during the day and from person to person. The average temperature is often defined as 98.6 F. (37 C).
A temperature of 100 F (37.8 C) or above obtained using a mouth thermometer (oral temperature) is typically regarded as a fever.
Other symptoms and indicators of a fever, depending on the cause, may include:
- Shivering and chills
- Muscle pain
- Reduced appetite
- Generally weak
- A temperature reading
You may pick from a variety of thermometers to take your temperature, including oral, rectal, ear (tympanic), and forehead (temporal artery) thermometers.
Oral and rectal thermometers are frequently the most accurate tools for measuring core body temperature. Although practical, ear or forehead thermometers give less accurate readings of temperature measurements.
For neonates, a rectal temperature reading is somewhat more accurate if feasible. When reporting a temperature to your doctor, be sure to include both the reading and the name of the thermometer.
You might be able to prevent fevers by reducing your exposure to infectious diseases. The following advice may be helpful:
- Get the necessary vaccinations against infectious illnesses including COVID-19 and influenza.
- Follow the public health advice about the use of masks and social isolation.
- Wash your hands often, and encourage your children to do the same, especially before eating, just after using the restroom, after being around a lot of people or ill people, right after touching animals, and while using public transportation.
- Show your children the proper way to wash their hands: using soap on the front and back of each hand, then properly rinsing under running water.
- In situations where you do not have access to soap and water, have hand sanitiser on hand.
- Try to avoid touching your lips, nose, or eyes since these are the major entry points for germs and viruses that can infect you.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and show your children how to do the same. To prevent spreading germs to others, turn away from them whenever you can and cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Keep your youngster or children from sharing utensils, water bottles, or cups.
Your healthcare professional might not advise using drugs to reduce your body temperature if you have a low-grade fever. These brief fevers might be beneficial in lowering the number of pathogens that are causing your sickness. Fever levels exceeding 102 F (38.9 C) are typically uncomfortable and call for urgent medical attention.
Your healthcare practitioner can suggest over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen if you have a high temperature or a fever that makes you feel uncomfortable (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
Use these drugs as directed on the label or by your healthcare provider's advice. Take caution not to consume too much. Acute overdoses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be lethal, and high dosages or prolonged usage of these medications may harm the liver or kidneys. Do not concede giving children aspirin due to the risk of Reye's syndrome, an uncommon but potentially lethal illness.
Even while these drugs often suppress fevers, you can still get a minor one. The drug may take up to two hours to start working. If your temperature does not go down after taking medicine, contact your healthcare practitioner.
Medications on prescription
Depending on the reason for your disease, your doctor may recommend additional drugs. The signs and symptoms, including fever, may be lessened by treating the underlying cause.
Treatment of children
It may be necessary to admit infants to the hospital for testing and treatment, especially those under two months old. Fever in infants this young may be a sign of a severe illness requiring intravenous (IV) medicines and continual observation.
Complications of Fever
Children between the ages of six months and five years are more likely to experience seizures during a fever (febrile seizure). A third of children who experience one febrile seizure go on to experience another one, usually within the next 12 months.
A febrile seizure may cause body rigidity, eyes to roll back, loss of consciousness and limb trembling on both sides of the body. Despite being alarming for parents, the majority of febrile seizures have no long-term effects.
When a seizure happens:
- Lay your child on the ground or floor with their stomach or side up.
- Remove any sharp objects from your child's immediate area.
- Taking off tight garments
- Hold your youngster to avoid harm.
- Keep objects out of your child's mouth.
- If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or your child does not seem to be recovering well after the seizure, call your local emergency number.
- If your child is experiencing their first febrile seizure, take them to the emergency department or urgent care.
- Visit your child's doctor as soon as you can for a more thorough assessment if they do not require emergency treatment.
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Page last reviewed: Mar 15, 2023
Next review due: Mar 15, 2025