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Last Updated: Sep 02, 2020
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Fever: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention, Diet and Home remedies

About Symptoms Causes Temperature check How long does a fever last? Diagnosis Treatment Prevention Cost Complications Foods to Avoid Foods to Eat Alternatives Home remedies

What is a fever?

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.

What are the signs and symptoms of a fever?

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a fever are:

  • Temperature above 100.4 F (38 C) in adults and children
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Body ache
  • Irritation
  • Shivering and chills
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Pain in eyes

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.

What causes a fever?

Fever can be caused by multiple factors. Some of the most common ones are as follows:

  • Infection of the ear, lung, bladder, skin, kidney or throat
  • Food poisoning
  • Severe sunburn or heat exhaustion
  • Blood clots
  • Malignant tumour
  • Antibiotics
  • Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
  • Hyperthyroidism and other hormonal disorders
  • Intake of certain medicines used to manage high blood pressure or seizures
  • Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and Crohn’s disease

How to take temperature to check for fever?

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:

  • Clean the tip of the thermometer
  • Place the tip of the thermometer under the tongue
  • Ensure that the tip points toward the back of the mouth
  • Close the mouth
  • Wait for a minute
  • Read the temperature

How long does a fever last?

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.

How is a fever diagnosed?

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:

  • Ask you certain questions related to the symptoms, medical history, travel history etc
  • Carry out a physical exam
  • Ask you to undergo lab tests such as blood test, urine test, chest X-ray

Infants aged 28 days or younger may require hospitalization for testing and treatment.

What is the treatment for a fever?

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.

In case you are diagnosed with serious diseases like typhoid, dengue, viral, jaundice and malaria, your treatment will follow a different route.

How to prevent a fever?

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:

  • Wash hands as often as possible: Ensure that you wash your hands before eating, after using the washroom, after attending to your pet, after coming in contact with a sick person or after you have been in a crowd and after commuting in a public mode of transport. Also, ensure that your kids follow the same practice. Teach them how to wash and rinse their hands thoroughly with a bar of soap.
  • Use hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizers are helpful when there is no access to soap and water. However, remember to wash your hands once you have access to clean water and soap/hand wash solution.
  • Don't touch your face: Most infection-causing viruses and bacteria enter our body through nose, eyes or mouth. Therefore, it is essential that you avoid touching these parts.
  • Avoid passing germs: Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing. Ask your kids to do the same. If possible, try to maintain a distance and turn away from others when sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid sharing utensils: Do not share utensils, cups, water bottles with your children.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

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.

What are the complications of fever?

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:

  • Dehydration
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

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.

What are the foods to avoid in a fever?

There are certain foods that should not be consumed by people with fever. These foods include:

  • Caffeinated drinks and alcohol
  • Greasy foods
  • Hard to digest grains
  • Sugary food
  • Red meat
  • Shellfish
  • Unpasteurized milk and dairy products
  • Soda

What is the best diet for a fever?

Some of the best foods to consume in a fever include:

  • Chicken soup
  • Broth
  • Garlic
  • Coconut water
  • Hot tea
  • Honey
  • Ginger
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, pomegranates, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries

What are the natural ways to treat fever?

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.

What are the home remedies to treat a fever?

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:

  • Hydrate yourself by increasing intake of water, juices or rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte)
  • Take bath with lukewarm water
  • Decrease the level of activity and take proper rest
  • Take OTC medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Stay cool in bed with light clothing and bed covering. If possible, adjust room temperature

Popular Questions & Answers

Phlegm form after eating in throat, no cough. At times cold and sneezing. Allegra m one a day and mucolite bds, are used. But the symptoms appear frequently..

MBBS, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Lucknow
Dear lybrate-user, please do not self medicate and consult a good ent specialist at the earliest. You need a thorough sino-nasal evaluation. And give a proper history like do you have watery discharge from nose, any fever. Sincerely.
1 person found this helpful

My baby is 3 months 4 days old he is suffering frm cold n cough my doctor prescribed wikoryl af syrup can I give kufril ls drops twice a day for cough?

MBBS
Pediatrician, Kannur
Kufril ls has levosalbutamol which is a broncodilator (needed if there is wheezing). As the doctor has adviced only wikoryl af try giving the same. Child may not be requiring a bronchodilator as per doctors examination finding. Also doses will dif...
1 person found this helpful

My daughter is 16 y ars old .for cold due to paint allergy doctor has prescribed azithral 500 1 in the night and aciloc rd 1/2 tablet. Can I give her becosules tablet.

MBBS, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Lucknow
Dear lybrate-user, just relax. If your daughter has cold due to paint allergy the therapy given is incorrect. Please give a detailed history as to whether there is excessive sneezing or nose block. Also whether your daughter has fever and cough. Y...

I had wheezing and nasal congestion for almost two months after taking first dose of covishield in may. Consulted doctor in july and he prescribed ambroxyl tab, telekast and fluticasone nasal spray. Now also my nasal block is not completely cured and everyday I am doing salt water gargling to remove phlegm from throat. I am due for my second vaccination shot. Should I take antihistamines before taking the shot?

CCEBDM, PG Diploma In Clinical Cardiology, MBBS, certificate course in rheumatology and joint disorders., Diploma in community mental health
General Physician, Ghaziabad
1. Avoid exposure to cold 2. Take bath with little warm water 3. Do steam inhalation regularly at least once a day 4. Warm salt water gargles daily 5 no cold water / cold drinks / ice creams and so on 6. No smoking/ avoid pollution 7. Wash hands a...

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