Fever is a medical condition that is characterised by an increase in the temperature of the body above the normal range of 98–100°F. The condition is medically referred to as pyrexia or hyperthermia. Fever occurs in both children and adults.
A fever usually occurs when the immune system detects the presence of an infection-causing pathogen in the body. The immune response involves increasing the body's temperature to eliminate the pathogen.
A number of other factors can also affect the temperature of the body. Eating, exercising, sleeping, time of the day etc can cause a slight change in the body's temperature. A nominal increase in body temperature or occasional fever usually resolves on its own without any medication.
However, a very high increase in temperature of the body can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. A person with high or recurring fever should consult a physician immediately.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a fever are:
A person who has developed a very high fever ( i.e. temperature greater than 104 F) may also experience hallucinations, convulsions, and confusion. Toddlers and kids may also exhibit fussiness. Similarly, kids who have developed fever as a result of infection may also show symptoms such as earache, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhoea and cough.
COVID-19 Symptoms: If a person has a fever with a dry cough, they may have symptoms of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The other common symptoms are shortness of breath and fatigue.
Fever can be caused by multiple factors. Some of the most common ones are as follows:
To check the temperature, you can choose from one of the several types of thermometers. Oral, rectal, ear (tympanic) and forehead (temporal artery) thermometers are some of the thermometers that are commonly used.
To use an oral thermometer:
Most cases of fever do not last long more than two or three days. Low-grade fever usually resolves with rest and OTC medication. However, if the fever is caused by an infection such as influenza, then fever and other symptoms may last nearly one week. Antibiotics and other medication can expedite recovery.
If the fever is caused by severe infection or in people with a compromised immune system (such as elderly people, infants, people with an autoimmune disorder and HIV patients), then fever can be life-threatening.
A fever is mostly a symptom of an underlying medical condition. While the fever can be diagnosed easily by measuring the temperature of the body with a thermometer, it is often not easy to diagnose the cause of the underlying condition on the basis of fever (as a symptom) alone.
To diagnose the condition, your physician may:
Infants aged 28 days or younger may require hospitalization for testing and treatment.
Most fevers can be treated at home with some simple remedies. However, if your condition does not improve in 3-4 days or the temperature crosses 103°F, you must consult a doctor. It could be a sign of some serious infection in your body.
The doctor will first check your temperature to find out the severity of your condition. He may then prescribe over the counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, crocin and others. Do not consume antibiotics on your own.
Fevers caused by infections can be prevented by limiting the exposure to infection-causing pathogens. Good hygiene practices play a key role in avoiding exposure to pathogens and their sources. Some of the good hygiene tips that can be followed to reduce the risk of infections and fevers are:
One session of consultation with a doctor may cost you between ₹200 - ₹600. The cost of acetaminophen may be around ₹100 per 500ml. Ibuprofen may cost around ₹10 per 50ml.
A low-grade fever is unlikely to cause any complications. However, high fever i.e. body temperature greater than 103 F can lead to complications such as:
The complications are more common in kids aged between 0.5 to 6 years. In kids, fever may lead to fever-induced convulsions (febrile seizures). Febrile seizures are not associated with any lasting effects.
There are certain foods that should not be consumed by people with fever. These foods include:
Some of the best foods to consume in a fever include:
Fever generally goes away on its own within a few days. If you do not want to undergo medications, you may try to rest and let it pass. You can avoid catching fever in the future by following a healthy lifestyle and consuming a nutritious diet. Take proper care of your hygienic conditions. Do not over exert your body and remember to change your lifestyle according to the change in weather.
Most episodes of fever can be treated at home. There are certain measures that be taken to treat mild fever at home. Those measures include: