Defined by the Mayo Clinic as a “temporary increase in your body temperature,” a fever occurs when a part of your brain called the hypothalamus raises thermometer readings above the normal 98.6 degrees in response to some kind of disruption. Most doctors consider this condition a “natural bodily defense against infection.”
The appearance of a fever is a sign that your body is reacting to an underlying condition such as:
• A bacterial or viral infection
• Heat exhaustion or heatstroke
• Systemic joint inflammation
• Cancerous tumors
In most cases, the presence of this condition shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. However, certain accompanying symptoms may make you feel uncomfortable and require simple treatment to resolve.
Symptoms and Treatment
When you have a fever, you may shiver, sweat, ache or feel weak. Children may experience tiredness, loss of appetite, irritability or feelings of ill health. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest can help you or your child feel better. If you become extremely uncomfortable or your child has trouble resting, you may use an over-the-counter medication. Use this treatment sparingly since reducing thermometer readings may undermine your body’s ability to combat the cause.
When to See a Doctor
This condition becomes dangerous when it reaches over 100.4 degrees in infants, 104 degrees in children or a persistent reading of 103 degrees in adults. Certain conditions, such as heat stroke, medication side effects, drug overdose or stroke may cause hyperthermia, a state in which the body loses the ability to control its temperature. Very high readings may cause:
Other symptoms, including unexplained rashes, excessive vomiting, neck stiffness, severe headaches and chest pain are also cause for concern. In children, cold hands and feet, extreme lethargy, difficulty breathing and unusual weakness should be checked by a doctor immediately.
For fast care in an emergency situation, head to a local urgent care office. Urgent care centers are often less crowded than the emergency room and can handle the complications associated with this condition quickly and effectively so that you or your child can rest easy.