Your body temperature is considered normal when it hovers around 98.6°F. However, the range of normal may vary depending on several factors like the food we consume, our sleeping pattern and the physical activities we perform. When there is an increase in body temperature, it is known as fever, medically termed as pyrexia. Commonly, fever is caused by a bacterial or viral infection of the respiratory tract. Actually, it is not a disease in itself but a symptom of underlying ailments or infections. Your body temperature rises when your mmune system works hard to fight out pathogens like bacteria or virus from the body. As the body temperature rises, you will feel cold. Some experience chills too.
TYPES OF FEVER
Broadly speaking, fever can be classified into three categories, based on the temperature than one experiences.
Low grade fever: When your body temperature is around 100°F- 101°F, it falls in this category.
High grade fever: If your body temperature is about 103°F - 104°F, you are suffering from high grade fever.
Dangerous range of temperature: Body temperature ranging between 104°F and 107°F is indicative of a serious underlying condition. It requires immediate medical attention.
CAUSES OF FEVER
We get fever when hypothalamus, a brain area, sets your body temperature soaring. There could be various factors that can cause fever. Here are some of them:
- Infections, including the flu, pneumonia, UTI, COVID-19 and others
- Immunizations, such as diphtheria or tetanus (in children)
- Teething (in infants)
- Chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Crohn’s disease
- Lung problems
- Certain medications
- Alcohol withdrawal and drug abuse
- Heat stroke
SYMPTOMS OF FEVER
Apart from high body temperature, fever can come with many associated symptoms, depending on the underlying condition. Here are a few of them:
- Runny nose
- Low appetite
- Muscle spasm
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Depleted energy levels
- Difficulty in concentrating
DIAGNOSIS OF FEVER
You can measure a rise in temperature with the help of a thermometer by placing it in the mouth or under the arm. Consultation with your doctor is mandatory if the fever persists for more than a week or comes with symptoms like difficulty in concentrating, hallucination, seizure, low energy levels, drowsiness, breathing issues, etc. These are indicative of severe underlying conditions. In such cases, your doctor might conduct physical examination and recommend blood tests and urine analysis to detect the exact cause and start treatment for the same.
TREATMENTS OF FEVER
As already mentioned, a high body temperature, in most cases the manifestation of an infection of the respiratory tract. A low-grade fever with no associated symptoms resolves on its own. Staying hydrated and rest are good enough to heal it. If you experience symptoms like general discomfort and muscle spasm, antipyretics may be suggested to bring down your temperature. Available over the counter, these include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen which help in case of a viral fever. If a fever is caused by bacteria, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. However, severe symptoms or a long-standing fever need diagnosis and the line of treatment depends on the underlying cause. Medical intervention will also be required if:
- Your infant, younger than 3 months old, has a body temperature exceeding 100.4°F
- Your infant, aged between 3 and 6 months, has a temperature over 102°F, and seems unusually irritable, lethargic, or uncomfortable
- Your toddler’s body temperature is higher than 102°F that lasts longer than one day
- You child’s fever lasts for more than three days, is irritable, experiences rash, a severe headache, throat swelling, pain in the abdomen, muscle weakness, difficulty in breathing, etc.
PREVENTION OF FEVER
As fever is caused mostly by bacterial or viral infections, limiting exposure to them is the most effective way to prevent them. Here is how to do so:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating, after using the toilet, and coming back from a crowded place.
- Carry a hand sanitizer while going out as you won’t have access to soap and water.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes to prevent bacteria and viruses from sneaking into your system.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Don’t share your utensils, towels, and soaps with others.