Fever, medically known as pyrexia, is the temporary increase in the internal body temperature. The average body temperature is 98.6 °F (37 °C). When the body’s internal temperature rises to greater than 99-99.5°F (37.2-37.5°C), depending on the time of the day, it is generally acknowledged as fever. Normal body temperature is usually highest at night. However, the women’s menstrual cycle, physical activity, heavy clothing, high room temperature, and high humidity may also lead to rise in body temperature.
Fever plays an important role in the defense against diseases and infections. The body increases in temperature to kill the invading bacteria or virus. Brain damage does not typically occur from fevers unless it is at exceedingly high temperatures, particularly at over 107.6 °F (42 °C). Body temperature is regulated by the brain, specifically the hypothalamus.
Causes of Fever
Most infections cause fever. Some of these common infections include:
- Colds or flu-like illnesses
- Skin infections
- Bone infections
- Ear infections
- Sore throats
- Sinus infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Gastroenteritis, whether bacterial or viral
- Trauma or injury
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics, narcotics, antihistamines, among others
- If fever exists for several days or weeks with no explanation, it is called fevers of undetermined origin (FUO)
Ways to Get Temperature to Make Sure of Presence of Fever
It is recommended to use digital temperatures rather than mercury thermometers due to possible mercury exposure. There are several ways to take temperature and check for fever in adults:
- Average temperature: 98.2 °F (36.8 °C)
- Fever temperature: 99.5 °F (37.5 °C)
- Axilla (underarm)
- Average temperature: 97.6 °F (36.4 °C)
- Fever temperature: 99.0 °F (37.2 °C)
- Rectal or ear
- Average temperature: 99.6 °F (37.6 °C)
- Fever temperature: 100.4 °F (38.0 °C)
When to SeekEmergency Assistance Regarding Fever
Fevers can usually be treated at home. Although, if an adult has fever accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may be time to see a doctor:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent vomiting
- Abdominal pain when urinating
- Unusual skin rash
- Sore throat
- Mental confusion
- With known medical illness
- Fever persists for days and is not increasing
Home Treatment for Fever
For adults with fevers below 102 °F (38.9 °C), medications may not be required, unless it is advised by the doctor. For fevers greater than this temperature, over-the-counter (OTC) medications may be taken. Other home treatments may be given:
- Take temperature every two hours to note fever.
- If the person is feeling uncomfortable, take OTC medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Drink lots of fluids, especially water, fruit juices and sports drinks. This may also help avoid dehydration.
- Take a bath with warm water. If not possible, sponge baths may also lower the body temperature.
- An ice pack may be placed on to forehead to help cool the body down temporarily.
- Dress in light clothing and use only a light cover to avoid increasing body temperature.
Fevers can easily be treated at home, especially with first aid skills. Joining in first aid courses can help treat everyday emergencies, from fevers to nosebleeds to bites and many other day-to-day traumas.