Fever is characterized by a temporary increase in body temperature, primarily due to an ailment. It is not a disease but a symptom or an indication that something in the body is not right.

An adult may find fever uncomfortable but it is not much of a concern until the body temperature reaches 103°F (39.4°C) or higher. However, it is not the same in the case of toddlers and infants. Even a slightly elevated temperature could be the indication of a serious infection.

It is important to note that fever plays a major role in aiding your body fight off various infections. However, it is important to know the reason for the fever to ensure that it does not cause any major harm to the body.

Symptoms of Fever

When the body temperature rises above the normal range, it is termed as fever. While the average normal temperature is 98.6°F (37°C) but different people may have different body temperature normal for them.

Depending on the cause of the fever, there may be different signs and symptoms of fever including:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • General weakness

Children between the age group of 6 months and 5 years could experience a febrile seizure. And about 1/3rd of the children who suffered a febrile seizure would get another one mostly within the next one year.

Causes of Fever

When the immune system is attacked by a foreign invader, it responds by means of fever. The foreign invaders could be anything ranging from viruses, fungi, and bacteria to drugs and other toxins.

These foreign invaders generate fever-producing substances known as pyrogens which trigger the immune response of the body. The hypothalamus in the brain is signaled by the pyrogens to increase the set point of the body temperature to help the body ward off the infection.

Most infections like flu, colds, gastroenteritis, etc. also cause fever. Thus, exposure to infectious agents is a risk factor for fever. Other forms of infections such as throat, ear, bladder, lung and kidney may cause fever too. Teething or immunizations are often the cause for low-grade fever in children. Some of the non-infectious causes of fever include autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, seizures, side effects of medicines, hormone disorders, blood clots, illicit drug use and cancers.

Fever is not contagious but if the reason is a bacterial or viral infection then the infection might be contagious.

Prevention

Prevention of fever is possible by thwarting the cause. Most of the time, fever is caused due to viral or bacterial infections. And these infections can be stopped by developing good hygiene practices. Of which the most important is properly washing the hands before and after every meal and after going to the restroom. It is strongly recommended to carry a sanitizer while going out to places where you may not have access to water and soap.

A person already suffering from fever must limit contact with other people to prevent the spreading of the infection.

Avoid touching nose, eyes or mouth frequently as bacteria and viruses can travel through these openings into the body and cause infection. It is of utmost importance to cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing whether or not a person is suffering from fever in order to stop spreading the germs.

It is always advisable to avoid sharing water bottles, cups, and utensils.

Diagnosis

A thermometer is commonly used to check the body temperature. The temperature must be taken when the person is in a resting position as physical activities warm up the body.

A person has a fever if:

  • The rectal (anus) temperature is over 100–101°F (37.5–38.3°C).
  • The oral (mouth) temperature is over 99.9°F (37.7°C).
  • The temperature inside the ear or in  armpit is over 99°F (37.2°C).

After it is confirmed that the body temperature is elevated, certain diagnostic tests become important to ascertain the cause. Depending on the signs and symptoms of fever, the tests that need to be carried out may include urineand blood tests and other imaging scans.

At Nightingales, we ensure that the real reason for the fever is properly determined to help the doctor, who can then design a treatment strategy accordingly and unnecessary use of medications can be avoided. Book our fever panel package that includes a multitude of blood and urine tests, which can diagnose common fevers like typhoid, malaria, jaundice, dengue, etc. We would collect the samples from your home as per the scheduled time as we are committed to offering medical and related services at home.

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