Fever is the sudden rise in body temperature. It is a signal that our body gives us that something bad is happening inside our body. It is a normal reaction or response of our immune system. Whenever a foreign particle enters our body and infects the cells, our antibodies fight against it. It is our body’s way of giving alerts by increasing the normal temperature. Fever is also called Pyrexia or Controlled Hyperthermia. When the body temperature goes to 100o F (38o C) or more, we consider it as a significant temperature rise. If it persists for more than 24 hours, the causes of it should be suspected, diagnosed, and treated.
WHEN SHOULD WE TAKE IT SERIOUSLY?
Fever is just a normal function of our body that lets us know the correct response against an infection. But it should be taken care of especially in children or infants if there are symptoms like
- Temperature is 102o F or more and if it continues for more than 36 hours.
- Cold, cough, and loss of appetite.
- Chills and night sweats.
- Fever accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
- Weakness, dizziness, body ache, or fatigue.
- Having seizures or fits with high temperature.
- Cough, sore throat, mucus accumulation, and chest tightness.
- Inability to swallow foods even liquids.
- Fever recurring after particular hours.
TYPES OF FEVER AND VARIATIONS
There are many kinds and causes of fever. Most commonly it may be due to viral or bacterial infections. Viral fevers usually stay for 1-3 days but the recurrent fever may persist for almost 14 days or more. A person with viral infections may experience nausea, coughing, running nose, body pain, etc. Not all viral fevers are contagious but most of them appear to be contagious. For example, common cold, influenza, malaria, dengue, HIV, covid-19, etc. are contagious and may spread from person to person by various means. Bacterial infections are similar to viral infections and there is no major difference in symptoms. It persists for few days or until treated with an antibiotic. Bacterial fever does not subside by itself and it is higher than a viral fever. It worsens day after day instead of showing better improvement.
Other than the common infections, fever may occur also due to other less common causes like hepatitis, sinusitis, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, etc. Body temperature also varies with age and physical activities. It may be lower in the mornings and higher in late noon or after heavy workout sessions and hot showers.
WHERE TO TAKE THE TEMPERATURE?
There are four ways to measure the rise in body temperature.
- Rectal method – It is the most accurate way of measuring temperature, especially for children. It is taken by inserting the thermometer in the rectum or bum.
- Tympanic method – It is the next accurate method where the temperature is taken by keeping the thermometer into the ear canal.
- Axillary method – This temperature which is taken from the underarms is considered to be less accurate when compared with tympanic and rectal methods.
- Oral method – It is the least accurate method of all where the temperature is taken by keeping the thermometer under the tongue. But it is the most common method of reading the temperature.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Fever can be controlled by following some home remedies or by taking antipyretics which can only reduce the temperature but doesn’t treat the reasons. Few antipyretics or fever-reducing drugs are paracetamol, aspirin, or Anacin. These drugs can be taken rarely, however consuming them too often may cause unwanted side effects.