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 Do you feel slightly under the weather? Some days just feel like a drag, even when you get up on the right side of the bed! You can’t really put a finger on it but know that something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the weather, or long hours at work. Even the cat seems grumpy. You don’t feel sick enough to stay home but not well enough to face the day either. Your thermometer confirms a fever. Ugh!

Every so often, fever is mistaken for an illness itself. Well it’s not. The body has a way of sounding off an alarm when something is wrong. It is the one of the first clues given by the body’s defense system signifying an unfamiliar invader in the midst. It compels you to dig deeper and find out the cause. Generally, a slight fever (low grade fever) isn’t of much concern. It should normalize in a day or two with minimal intervention.

Medically, fever refers to ‘any body temperature above the normal i.e. 98.6 F (37 C)’. It becomes significant when the temperature rises above 100.4 F (38 C). A fever occurs as a result of an immune reaction by the body to a foreign agent such as virus, bacteria, fungi etc. Hence, it actually benefits the body as it tries to fight off an infection.

Types of fever

A fever can reveal a lot about the underlying cause. It exhibits different patterns, some of which are specific to certain conditions. Here are the common types of fever:

  • Continuous fever. The temperature remains above normal throughout the day and is typically non-fluctuating. It is common in conditions such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.
  • Remittent fever. The temperature remains above normal throughout the day and generally fluctuates more than 2 C. It’s the most common fever pattern.
  • Intermittent. The temperature gets back to normal throughout the day but spikes either every day or every other day. Typically seen in malaria, septicemia and pyemia.

Causes of fever

Fever causes are misinterpreted as ‘fever symptoms’ most of the time. Among the several causes of fever, infection is the most common. Most bacteria and viruses operate well at normal body temperature, but have a tough time surviving at higher temperatures. Viral fever is popular during the winter season, making it the most frequent cause of fever in adults. As the name indicates, it is caused by viruses.

Symptoms include runny nose, cough, sore throat, ear ache and muscle aches. Some may experience chills or an upset stomach as well. A typical viral infection can last up to two weeks. Treatment is usually symptomatic and your immune system has to battle off the rest of the infection. Some cases may warrant anti-viral medication and vaccinations can be administered for future protection.

Viral and bacterial infections run rampant in children as well. A toddler temperature can be worrisome for parents. Some children, particularly under 4 years of age may experience seizures with high temperatures, a phenomenon known as ‘febrile fits’. In a case of febrile fits parental judgment is obscured by fear and temperatures that may seem low can be a potential hazard for the child.

Other causes of fever include:

  • Tumors /Cancers (neoplasms) such as lymphomas, blood cancers, pancreatic cancer, bone and lung cancer
  • Vasculitis and other vascular causes such as pulmonary embolism and acute myocardial infarction
  • Physical trauma, stress and burns
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and collagen disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances such as thyrotoxicosis
  • Heat stroke
  • Radiation sickness
  • Vaccinations or immunizations in children

What’s the best way to treat a fever?

Since fever is a sign of illness, the underlying cause will most likely navigate the path it takes. Low grade or mild fevers that usually last a couple of days and are mostly stress induced require plenty of rest and hydration. Simple, over the counter drugs such as Pandaol/Tylenol or Ibuprofen are potent fever reducers.

Persistent more aggressive fevers, accompanied by chills rigors and other serious symptoms should be examined in more detail. It is best to consult your doctor at this point and get evaluated. A quicker solution could be to contact an expert physician online. Connect with online doctors with an online doctor app. Book a GP appointment online and get treated from home or even on the go! Get professional advice and get prescription online without the waiting and hassle of the emergency room. Most of the above-mentioned conditions require attention, care and a thorough check on medicine administration. It can be painstaking at times just to remember the timings and doses of all the medicines. Look up your doctor, schedule an online doctor appointment and be monitored remotely!

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The importance of a correct diagnosis goes without say. However, certain measures to reduce the temperature initially that can be employed at home are:

  • Over the counter anti-pyretics
  • Cold water sponging
  • Lukewarm bath
  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use a fan to keep body cool
  • Cold foods such as ice chips and yogurt help cool the body from the inside
  • Drinking herbal tea can induce sweating which will in turn bring down the body temperature

Treating a fever in a child can be tricky because children may appear active even during an ongoing illness or infection. In most cases being active is a good sign but it can also throw you off right track as a parent. It’s best never to ignore a feverish child. Here are some first aid techniques to cool a child down:

  • Encourage the use of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Dress child in light clothing
  • Cold sponging or soaked socks can be worn to cool the body down
  • In case of chills, cover with light blanket until chills subside and sweating begins

There’s a famous saying that ‘feed a cold and starve a fever’. Although a fever initially shows its face as a friend, if dismissed, it can become a foe. Be smart when it comes to your health. Good sense and good health are two of life’s greatest blessings!