Fever is also known as hyperthermia, pyrexia, or elevated temperature. It describes a body temperature that’s higher than normal. Fever can affect children and adults. A short-term increase in body temperature can help your body fight off illness. However, a severe fever can be a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Recognizing a fever can enable you to get treatment and proper monitoring for it. Normal body temperature is typically 37 °c. What is considered a normal body temperature in each person varies slightly. A child has a fever when a temperature taken orally is higher than 37.5 °c.
WHAT USUALLY CAUSES A FEVER?
Some reasons for a fever are:
- Infections, including pneumonia, colds, flu, ear infections, and bronchitis,
- Recent immunization (children),
- Teething in children,
- Certain inflammatory diseases or autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease,
- Blood clots.
HOW TO TREAT A FEVER AT HOME?
Home care for a fever depends on how severe it is. A mild fever with no other symptoms does not typically require medical treatment. Drinking fluids and making an effort to rest are usually enough.
When a fever is accompanied by mild symptoms, such as general discomfort or dehydration, it can be helpful to treat elevated body temperature by:
- Make sure the room temperature where the person is resting is comfortable.
- Take a regular bath or a sponge bath using lukewarm water.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT A FEVER?
A mild fever can typically be treated at home. However, there are some instances when you or your child should see a doctor as soon as possible. These instances include when (NIH, 2010):
- A child’s temperature is at least 38 °C when taken rectally (under 3 months of age).
- A child’s body temperature is higher than 38.9 °C (between 3 months and 6 months).
- Body temperature is higher than 39.4 °C, and at-home treatment doesn't bring it down and/or it’s causing discomfort (older children and adults).
- A child has other symptoms of illness, such as a cough or a sore throat.
- A child or adult has a serious medical illness and/or a compromised immune system.
- The fever is not going away (one to two days for children under 2, and two to three days for older children and adults).
- A child recently had one or more immunizations.
- The fever comes and goes for at least a week.
- The person has a skin rash, especially if the rash gets worse.
- The person is having pain during urination.
WHEN IS FEVER A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?
Go to the nearest emergency room if you or your child is experiencing any of the following:
- inconsolable crying (children),
- inability to walk,
- trouble breathing,
- severe headache,
Your doctor will probably perform a physical examination and medical tests. This will help him determine the cause of the fever and an effective course of treatment.