FEVER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSFevers are the name we give to the body’s internal temperature running higher than normal. Fevers are a symptom and by themselves do not represent a disease. Normal body temperature tends to run around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and 37 degrees Celsius. Fevers are often accompanied by sweating, discomfort, flushing of the skin, and warm skin to the touch. Fevers over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius, require attention which is typically a fever reducing medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprophen to encourage a fever to reduce. Fevers that reach 107 degrees Fahrenheit, 42 degree Celsius, require immediate emergency medical attention. It is rare for humans to survive internal body temperatures much higher than that.
While illness or infections are the primary cause of fevers, other medical factors may cause the body to run a fever. Surgery or physical trauma, infectious diseases like HIV, influenza, Malaria, the common cold, mononucleosis, or gastroenteritis can cause fevers. Immunological diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, or sarcoidosis are likely to cause random fevers. Tissue destruction has also been known to cause fevers. Tissue destruction includes things such as surgery, injury, crush syndrome, infarction, and cerebral hemorrhage. There is something known as drug fever, wherein the cause of the fever is directly related to medication, a reaction to the medication, or withdrawal from a drug or medication. Diet pills and energy supplements have been shown to cause short term fevers in people after use.
FEVER CAUSESFevers are usually indicators of some form of infection or other illness. The elderly have a difficult time retaining body heat, thus a low grade fever can be caused by almost any abnormality or change but require medical attention. Children can run fevers if overdressed or even if they have been engaged in vigorous activity, which has nothing to do with illness. Women can run low grade fevers associated with menstruation or even with ovulation. The body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and may fall under the range of a low grade fever even when there is nothing wrong. The body’s temperature runs at the lowest point around 4:00 am. The body tends to run at its highest temperature around 6 pm.
With the exception of high fevers which are 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, fevers themselves usually do not need to be treated. Fevers do need to be reduced for patients who already have complications from other illnesses, as fevers tend to put stress on the heart. Elderly patients, patients with metabolic issues, and patients with heart disease should routinely reduce fevers.
FEVER TREATMENTThe causes of fevers typically require treatment. However, fevers can be uncomfortable, especially for young children, and can contribute to dehydration. Fevers which are high enough to be uncomfortable can be treated with a fever reducing medication. A physician should be consulted prior to administering a fever reducing medication if the cause of the fever is being medicated with a different medication to avoid potential drug interactions or over medicating. Most cold and flu medications have fever reducers in their ingredients.
Self care is important when a fever is present. It is important to understand the cause of the fever in order to provide adequate self care. Following physician instructions and drinking ample electrolyte filled fluids to prevent dehydration are the two most important steps in providing self care for a fever.
Since fevers tend to cause discomfort, including a feeling of fatigue, resting the body as it is needed is important when coping with a fever. Applying room temperature damp cloths to the skin can provide relief from the feeling of overheating associated with running a significant fever. The body will tell a patient with a fever what they should be doing. They will be thirsty, thus they should drink. They will be tired and thus they should sleep. Listening to the body is a good way to cope with a fever.