A fever is a rise in body temperature, and is usually the sing of an infection. Fevers themselves are generally harmless and don’t require medical intervention beyond treatment for the underlying cause. Occasionally though, a fever can get too high and risk the patient’s wellbeing. Here’s what you should know about fevers.
What Temperature is Considered a Fever?
The average human body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C), but the temperature can vary between 97 F (36.1 C) and 99 F (37.2) naturally. Your activity levels, age, and the time of day can affect your body’s temperature. Frequently, older individuals have a lower body temperature than younger people.
The following temperatures may indicate a fever:
- Rectal, ear, or temporal artery temperature: 100.4 F (38 C) or higher.
- Oral temperature: 100 F (37.8 C) or higher.
- Armpit temperature of 99 F (37.2 C) or higher
How Do I Treat a Fever?
Typically, most treatment for fevers involve keeping the patient hydrated and comfortable. The fever may be a reaction to a more serious issue, so be sure to see your doctor if the fever doesn’t dissipate within a few days or continues to climb. Individuals with fevers may not look or act particularly ill, unless the fever is more than a few degrees of difference from normal body temperature.
Treatments for fevers include:
- Encouraging the patient to stay hydrated, and offering them clear fluids such as water, broth, tea, and clear juices.
- Dressing the patient in lightweight clothing to prevent overheating.
- Covering the patient in a light blanket if they are experiencing chills.
- Giving the patient a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If the patient is a child, consult their pediatrician and all dosage instructions.
When to Seek Medical Care
Serious fevers can cause physical damage, and they are often an indication of a severe infection that may require medical treatment. Depending on the age of the patient, the signs of a more serious illness can vary. If the patient is displaying any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice.
- Fussiness or abnormal behavior that doesn’t subside after medication
- Signs of dehydration such as dry diapers, crying without tears, dry mouth, or refusal to drink
- Stiff neck or a headache
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble breathing
- Joint pain or swelling
- A fever lasting more than 5 days
If your child is less than 3 months of age and has a fever, they should receive immediate medical attention.
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Severe headache
- Confusion, irritation, or agitation
- Abdominal pain
- Repeated vomiting
- Signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, dark urine, or refusing to drink
- Skin rashes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Back pain
- Pain while urinating
When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
There are some symptoms that require emergency medical intervention. If you observe these signs, you should take the patient to the emergency room or urgent care.
- Fever after being left in a hot car
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Repeated vomiting of diarrhea
- Irritability or significant discomfort
- Any worrisome, different, or unusual symptoms
Questions? Contact Our Forth Worth Doctors
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