Fever: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Fever is not a disease or an infection. It is a symptom of any medical condition that tells us that the body’s immune system is trying to fight off or cope with overcoming it.

What is Fever?

Normal body temperature allows the optimum functioning of every organ and cell in the body. The Hypothalamus, a part of the brain, regulates the body temperature that is 37˚C. 

However, the temperature keeps fluctuating during the day. This fluctuation is normal and influenced by various activities we carry out. These include sleeping, exercising, and even after having our meals. 

A fever is a sign that indicates something wrong in the body. When the body temperature is about 38˚C (100˚F) or higher is called pyrexia or fever. Fever is not a dangerous symptom but may lead to complications if the temperature rises to 39˚C (102˚F). 

Fever leads to a lot of physical discomforts. However, fever is a good sign in most cases as it shows the body’s defense system is doing its job. This means the natural immune system is trying to fight off infection and try to set things right within the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Fever

The first sign of fever is the rise in body temperature. We can check this with the thermometer, or we can feel it by holding the person’s hand or by touching a forehead. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling cold especially when others around the person do not feel cold
  • Shivers in body
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Unconsciousness
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle pain
  • Flushed skin
  • Irritation 
  • Hallucinations

Causes of Fever

Fever is generally caused by:

  • A viral infection
  • A bacterial invasion within the body
  • Parasitic intrusion
  • Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sunburn or extreme exposure to the sun
  • Heatstroke
  • Reaction to certain medications
  • Withdrawal symptom in alcoholics
  • Presence of tumor within the body
  • Ear infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis
  • Autoimmune disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Blood clots
  • A sign of teething in infants
  • Hemorrhage or hemolysis

Diagnosis of Fever

Fever is usually diagnosed by physically examining the patient or by checking body temperature with a thermometer. The doctor may recommend some blood tests or procedures to find out the reason behind the fever. This is especially true in case the fever persists for more than a week.

Treatment of Fever

Fever does not always need specific treatment. Many times, it resolves on its own without treatment. A low-grade fever is usually a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection. In this case, the doctor may prescribe acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce the pain. However, make sure you speak to a doctor regarding the dosage of the drug, especially in the case of children. Never give aspirin to children or adolescents under the age of 16 years. Give the patient plenty of fluids to drink, as it will keep them hydrated and flush out toxins from the body. 

If the fever does not subside within a week or leads to vomiting, pain in the abdomen, severe headache, pain during urination, etc. visit a doctor immediately. 

Fever is very dangerous if the temperature rises over 41.5 °C (106.7 °F). It is considered a medical emergency and indicates a severe health complication.