Fever

1 What is Fever?

Fever is a temporary increase in the body temperature. Fever usually underlies an ongoing illness. Fever in infants and toddlers usually indicates a serious infection.

Fever in adults can become uncomfortable unless it reaches 103 F (39.4 C). Fevers usually go away within a few days and can be treated by over-the-counter medications.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of fever include:

Fever occurs when the body's temperature goes above the average normal temperature of 98.6 F (37 C).

Fevers between the temperatures of 103 F (39.4 C) and 106 F (41.1 C) may be accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:

3 Causes

Fever can be caused by:

Sometimes the cause of fever is unknown.

Fevers occur when the hypothalamus, an area of the brain also know as the thermostat, shifts the set point of the normal temperature upward. When this happens a person may experience chills and may shiver in order to generate more heat.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of fever is done by:

  • the doctor asking about symptoms and medical history
  • performing a physical examination
  • performing tests like blood tests, chest x-ray

5 Treatment

Fever does not require treatments in most cases. Medications are usually given when the fever is very high. Over the counter medications that can be given to treat fevers.

The drugs used include acetaminophen (Tylenol), I buprofen (Advil, Motrin B) and aspirin. However, aspirin should not be given to children since it can cause Reyes syndrome.

Antibiotics can also be given if the cause of the fever is an infection. 

6 Prevention

Fever can be prevented by reducing the exposure to infectious diseases.

This can be achieved by following these tips:

  • washing the hands frequently,
  • covering the mouth when coughing,
  • avoiding sharing cups, water bottles, and utensils.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

The following home remedies can help a child with fever to feel comfortable:

  • drinking plenty of fluids since fever causes fluid loss and dehydration
  • getting enough rest and staying cool by wearing light clothing

8 Risks and Complications

The complications of fever may include:                                                                

  • severe dehydration                                                                                              
  • hallucinations                                                                                                                          
  • febrile seizures in children between 6 months to 5 years. Febrile seizures can involve loss of consciousness and shake of limbs on both sides of the body. Most seizures do not require treatment because they can stop on their own.
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