A fever is an abnormally high body temperature, usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. A fever, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. It is the body’s natural and healthy way of fighting infections or other illnesses. It is important to note, a fever is merely a symptom and not a disease.
The average body temperature of humans is 98.6°F, but a “normal” body temperature varies significantly from person to person. It can even fluctuate throughout the day. Typically, a body temperature of 100.4°F or over is considered to be a fever.
A fever usually means your body is responding to a viral infection, such as a cold or flu, or a bacterial infection, such as a urinary tract infection.
Other possible causes of a fever are:
• Heat exhaustion
• Extreme sunburn
• Certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Malignant tumor or some forms of kidney cancers
• Some medications, such as antibiotics and drugs used to treat high blood pressure or seizures
• A body temperature of 100.4° or over
Symptoms that may accompany a fever include:
• Muscle aches
• Loss of appetite
• General weakness
People experiencing extremely high temperatures (103°-106°F), may experience:
It is important to seek medical attention from the Student Health Center or your doctor if you have a fever this high.
Be sure to check with your doctor, before starting any medical regimens.
It is not advisable to treat low grade fevers. The fever is helping your body to fight an infection. Lowering your temperature may prolong your illness.
When to seek medical attention:
• Temperature is more than 103° F
• Fever lasts more than three days
Seek IMMEDIATE care if a fever is accompanied by:
• Severe headache
• Severe throat swelling
• Unusual skin rash, especially if the rash rapidly worsens
• Unusual sensitivity to bright light
• Stiff neck and pain when you bend your head forward
• Mental confusion
• Persistent vomiting
• Difficulty breathing or chest pain
• Extreme listlessness or irritability
• Abdominal pain or pain when urinating
• Any other unexplained signs or symptoms
At home self-care:
It is a great idea to purchase a thermometer so you’ll have it when needed. If you have a minor fever, you can try any of the following:
• Avoid taking medications and give your body time to fight the infection
• Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Get plenty of rest
References: WebMD and Mayo Clinic.
Physician On Call: (202) 444-PAGE
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