Definition of Fever
Fever is the term used to describe the temporary increase in your body temperature and it is often caused by an illness. Having a fever means that something is not going on as usually in your body. While for an adult, fever is mostly uncomfortable, but not a cause of concern, for infants and toddlers, a slightly elevated temperature becomes a cause of concern, as it may indicate a serious infection. Generally, fever goes away within a few days and it plays an important role in helping your body fight off several infections, thus it is sometimes recommended to leave fever untreated.
The symptoms of fever
The average normal temperature of a human is around 37°C (98.6°F). This means that when your fever rises above the normal range – which may differ a bit from a person to another – you have fever. Some of the most common fever symptoms include the following ones:
– Muscle aches
– Loss of appetite
– General weakness
When the fever rises higher, so that it gets between 39.4° (103°F) and 41.1°C (106°F), these fever symptoms may appear:
How to take the temperature
There are several types of thermometers that you can use to check your or your child’s temperature: oral, ear, rectal and forehead thermometers. Despite the fact that this is not the most accurate way of taking your temperature, you can use the oral thermometer to read the temperature axillary. One of the most recommended ways of checking your infant’s temperature is using a rectal thermometer.
Seeing the doctor
Usually, fevers by themselves do not present a cause of alarm or a reason to call your doctor. However, under certain circumstances, you are recommended to seek medical advice for yourself, but especially for your baby or child. Typically, the temperature requires calling a doctor in different cases, depending on the age of person having fever. Here you can see some particular cases of when you should call your doctor:
For infants: unexplained fever is a great cause of concern in infants and children.
- Younger than 3 months of age – if the infant has a rectal temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher
- Between 3 and 6 months old – if the infant has a temperature of up to 38.9°C (102°F) and seems unusually irritable, uncomfortable or lethargic
- Between 6 and 24 months old – if the infant has a temperature higher than 38.9°C (102°F) and it lasts longer than one day, without other fever symptoms, or with symptoms such as cough, cold or diarrhea.
- For a newborn if the temperature is lower than 36.1°C (97°F).
For children: you need to call your doctor in following cases:
- Your child is listless, irritable, vomits repeatedly, has a severe stomachache or headache or presents any symptoms that cause important discomfort
- Has a fever for longer than three days
- Has a fever after has been left in a hot car
- Your child appears listless and barely has eye contact with you
Adults: for adults, you need to call your doctor if your temperature is 39.4°C (103°F) or higher, you have had fever for at least three days, or you present the following fever symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Unusual skin rash
- Severe throat swelling
- Unusual sensitivity to bright light
- Persistent vomiting
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Mental confusion
- Abdominal pain
Causes of fever
There are many possible causes of fever and in certain cases, it might be of an unknown cause. Although usually fever goes down by itself, there is also medication to make it go down. Also, in rare cases, fever may determine the apparition of certain complications.