Facts About Fever: When to Treat at Home or Seek Medical Attention
Why is it important to know if you have a fever? Fevers are one way your body fights infections, but they can become dangerous if your body temperature goes too high. Learn the signs and symptoms of fever so that you can be prepared to treat it effectively.
The Causes and Symptoms of Fever
Healthy body temperature varies from person to person and typically changes depending on time of day and according to your diet and exercise routine. The first sign of illness may be fever, when your body temperature rises to help your immune system kill bacteria and viral infections. By surpassing 100.4 F, your body signals your immune system to attack infections with greater intensity.
Fevers can have different degrees of severity, with a low-grade fever for adults sitting between 99.1 and 100.4 F and a high-grade fever in the range of 102.4 and 105.8 F. By contrast, children are considered to be at an elevated temperature if they reach 100.4 F or higher.
Children are also more at risk for fevers than adults. During high fevers, they may even experience a febrile seizure, which is relatively common and occurs when a child’s temperature gets too high. Symptoms of this condition include vomiting, twitching and loss of consciousness. If a child in your care exhibits symptoms of a seizure brought on by fever and it lasts more than 5 minutes, call 911 immediately. Regardless of the length of the seizure, you should always schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician once the seizure is over. It’s important to find the cause of the seizure.
Fighting a Fever From Home
Seeking medical assistance is not always necessary when dealing with a fever, but beware of fever-related home remedies, such as “feed a cold, starve a fever,” or taking a hot or cold shower. If you are suffering from a fever because of an illness, such as the flu, the right amount of sleep and the proper at-home remedies can be enough to lower your fever and help you feel better.
If you check your oral temperature and find that you are experiencing a low-grade fever, you can find some relief at home by:
- Applying a damp rag to wrists and forehead
- Eating light foods
- Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Taking a lukewarm bath
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
When to Seek Medical Attention
Fever has a number of possible causes, but it usually arises because of a viral illness, such as the flu, or an infection such as strep throat. While low-grade fevers often resolve on their own, seek medical assistance if you experience:
- A stiff neck
- Any kind of severe pain
- Dizziness or confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain when urinating
- Swelling or inflammation
When you need immediate medical attention, don’t hesitate to call 911.
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