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Fever - When To Check, When To Worry, What To Do

Dr. Ashok Mishra 91% (2260 ratings)
MBBS
General Physician, Allahabad  •  42 years experience
Fever - When To Check, When To Worry, What To Do

Fever is not a disease! It's a known fact that normal human body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C). If temperature goes beyond that, then it's called fever. But one must not worry every time if there is a rise in the temperature. 

Why?
The reason is that immune system is designed to raise temperature as a defence mechanism, if there is any attack by a foreign body (such as bacteria). So body temperature may fluctuate between 97 and 100.4. But there is no need to worry.

When to Consider Checking?
Routine check up is unnecessary. You may consider to check when:

  • You feel the warmth while you touch
  • You feel very tired, dizzy and lose appetite
  • You feel nauseated, see rashes on the body, experience loose motion, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, etc.

Is it Time to Worry? 
Normally, fever is not dangerous. However, if you see the following conditions, then it's time to worry and call a doctor. 

  • If the body temperature is more than 103 degree F 
  • If fever lasts for more than five days
  • If you feel difficulty in breathing
  • If there is severe vomiting or diarrhoea
  • If you feel stiffness in the neck and have headache
  • If you feel excessively sleepy and lethargic
  • If you see redness in skin, rashes or blood in stool.

If the condition worsens, it is time to rush to a hospital. There could be following:

  • Meningitis is life threatening and highly transmissible in case of bacterial infection. A combination of a fever, extreme headache and stiffness in the neck is an indication that you must rush to the emergency department of a hospital near you.
  • Difficulty in breathing or chest pain along with fever should prompt you to call for emergency medical assistance.
  • If someone has fever along with blood in stool, urine or mucus, it's one of the reasons to seek for emergency medical help.
  • If one has fever and is quite disturbed or puzzled unnecessarily, then the person should be taken to the emergency department.
  • A person with low immune responses (such as one who is suffering from cancer or AIDS) needs doctor's help in case of fever development.
  • Hyperthermia: it's a condition of very high fever, i.e., more than 104 degree F. The person seems to be confused and may not respond to verbal stimuli or commands. It's time for medical emergency.

What should You Do?
For mild fever, even home remedies can help. Aspirin shouldn't be the first choice and an absolute no for individuals less than 18 years. Other drugs that people usually tend to consume are ibuprofen or acetaminophen. One should also drink plenty of water. In case of a heat stroke, body needs to be cooled.
Other severe causes such as viral infection should lead you to a doctor.

Related Tip: "Parenting Tips for Fever in Children"

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