Fever - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Fever, also known as pyrexia, is a condition in which your body temperature remains higher than normal- 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not a disease. Instead, it is a symptom, most commonly of any infection. Once the underlying causes are resolved, fever also goes away. 


Fever can be uncomfortable. Often, it is accompanied by headache and palpitations. An over-the-counter pain reliever can help lower the body temperature. If it persists for a long time, you must go to the healthcare provider. 

 

Symptoms 

 

Fever itself is a symptom of any underlying infection or health condition. The signs and symptoms may vary depending on the cause. They may show up as;

 

  • Sweating

  • Chills and shivering

  • Headache

  • Dehydration

  • General weakness

  • Muscle aches

  • Loss of appetite

  • Irritability

 

In children aged between 6 months to 5 years, high-grade fever can cause seizures, called febrile seizures. If it occurs with your child, you must take them to the healthcare provider as soon as possible.

 

Taking a temperature 

 

You can take fever in various ways;

 

  • Oral 

  • Rectal 

  • Ear- tympanic

  • Forehead - temporal artery

 

The reliable places to measure body temperature are oral and rectal. Whereas taking temperature from the forehead and temporal artery is not as reliable as the other two. Therefore you must try taking it from the sites that show accurate results. 


In babies, doctors prefer taking the temperature rectally as it is accurate. When you tell the body temperature of your child to the healthcare provider, also mention the way how you took it.  

 

Causes

 

Your body has a gland called the hypothalamus that works like a thermostat of your body, maintaining body temperature. When it shifts your body temperature higher, you get a fever. Therefore, you may feel the need to cover yourself, wearing a blanket, or covering due to chills, which eventually increases the body temperature. 

 

 

Throughout the day your body temperature varies. In the morning you may have a lower body temperature, while in the afternoon and evening it may raise. Mostly, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is normal. However, it may vary from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 

Fever may occur due to reasons like;

 

  • Bacterial infection 

  • Viral infection 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis- autoimmune inflammation of joints

  • Malignancy 

  • Certain drugs- antibiotics, some blood pressure medications, or seizures

  • Getting vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) or pneumonia

 

Fever can occur due to various reasons. But often, the cause is easily diagnosed. If you have complained of fever for more than three weeks, you may need to get an extensive evaluation done.  

 

Treatment 

 

To lower down fever, your healthcare provider may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers like paracetamol and ibuprofen. If it occurs due to any bacterial infection, they may also prescribe antibiotics.  

 

Prevention 

 

You can only prevent fever when it occurs due to infections. For that, you can follow the tips like;

 

Ways To Prevent Infections


Hand Washing 


Our hands play a major role in the transmission of microorganisms from place to another. If a person having a respiratory tract infection has some microbes on his hands after coughing, and they touch a surface, and you touch the same surface, you will get those microbes on your hand. Therefore, whenever you reach back home from shopping or some other things, or after visiting someone who is ill, make sure you wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds. Make a lather of soap, rub it on the front and back of your hands, and wash them with running water. Also, do not forget to wash the fingers and nails.  

 

The Right Way To Cough 


Cough often occurs as a response to inflammation or infection of the respiratory tract. However, it can also occur due to various other reasons like heart failure, allergy, kidney disease, and some medications. The cough that occurs due to infections can spread microbes through droplets. Therefore, whenever you cough, use tissue paper to cover up your mouth, or you can also wear masks while going out. If you do not have tissue paper, cover your mouth with your hands or elbow. Make sure you wash your hands promptly after coughing or sneezing in them. 

 

Disinfect Cuts 


We all have had cuts and wounds due to various reasons. The first thing you should do after the bleeding stops is disinfecting the wound. If you do not do that, microbes can attack it and enter your body, turning it into an infected wound. You can disinfect the cut or wound with an alcohol swab, soap, aftershave, or any other disinfectant available over the counter. But make sure you do that. Otherwise, microbes will attack it. 

 

No Sharing


You must maintain a boundary between things you can share and things you can not share. In your house, you can share clothes with your siblings. But you must not share things like toothbrushes, razors, towels, napkins, and tissues. These things should be separate for everyone. Also, if someone is having an infection, do not eat or drink with them in the same utensil. However, you can use it after washing them. 

 

Do Not Scratch or Squeeze


Do not scratch and squeeze your wounds, cuts, and pimples. Doing that can make them infectious. Also, avoid touching them. Treat them gently.  

 

Conclusion 

 

Fever is a condition when your body temperature rises above normal. It can occur due to various reasons. But the most common of them is an infection due to viruses and bacteria. If you have a complaint of fever that remains for three weeks, you must visit the healthcare provider soon. 


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