Understanding fever and right approach toward treating it

Fever is also medically known as pyrexia, which is characterized by higher-than-normal body temperature. Fever can have an independent occurrence or can also be a symptom of several kinds of illnesses. It can occur in anyone at any age be it a child or a grown-up adult.

While most people believe fever is an illness, it is important to understand that fever is a defense mechanism of the body’s immune system. When a virus or an infection enters the body, the immune system of the body sends white blood cells to fight it. This causes heat in the body leading to increased body temperature.

Measuring body temperature
Fever can be gauged by feeling the warmth on the forehead using the back of the hand. A thermometer can be used to confirm the fever and get an accurate reading of the temperature. There are different ways in which a thermometer is used by people to check the body temperature.

  • Oral– Used by placing the thermometer under the tongue for 3-4 minutes. A digital oral thermometer will beep when it has measured the temperature.
  • Rectal– This is used with lubrication to avoid pain during insertion. If it’s a digital thermometer, it will beep on its own, otherwise, a manual thermometer can be pulled out after 3-4 minutes.
  • Axillary– Body temperature is checked by placing this thermometer’s tip under the arm in the deepest crease.
  • Tympanic– The thermometer can be placed at the ear canal opening to measure the body temperature.

Symptoms of fever
In adults, the normal body temperature varies from person to person; however, the average body temperature is around 98.6˚F. In fever, the body temperature reaches 100.4˚F or higher. Fever shows several symptoms that are often easy to identify. These symptoms are mentioned below:

  • Shivers
  • Sweating
  • A headache
  • Body pain or achy muscles
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness
  • Rash

Additionally, when fever is very high, the symptoms include confusion, irritability, extreme sleepiness, and seizures.

Identifying the cause of fever
Doctors often try to determine the possible causes that might have led to a fever. For this, they may ask details about the following:

  • Symptoms that may include coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or pain while urinating
  • Any recent surgeries, injuries, or illnesses
  • Any recent vaccination
  • Any new drugs the patient is consuming
  • Any recent travel, especially abroad

Treating fever
Fever in itself is a defense mechanism and does not need any treatment. However, one can follow these steps to strengthen the body so it can fight the infection better.

  • Drink plenty of water and healthy fluids
  •  Eat light, healthy, and easy to digest meals
  • Take good rest
  • Apply damp washcloth to the forehead
  • Dress light, despite the chills

While these steps can help one treat moderate fever at home, fever that is higher than 104˚F requires immediate medical intervention. Additionally, medical intervention is required when the fever is accompanied by loss of consciousness, a seizure, confusion, stiffness in the neck, trouble breathing, or severe pain in any body part.